Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Merry Merry June

So much greenery everywhere you look,
perfumed air reverberates with birdsong.
Gorgeous outdoor scenery echoes internal moods,
promise of vacation trips get closer and closer...

Local newscasts once again warn of flooding,
storms, funnel clouds and high winds aplenty.
June is right around the corner, June the joyful
month still full of difficult times battling weather.

In deepest winter we long for sun's warmth,
gentle breezes, floral scents and outdoor fun.
Summer has its own difficulties, from grass that
shoots up fast to falling trees or twister devastation.

Still, one can pause and be thankful on summer's cusp,
take in the visual and olfactory banquet provided us.
Better than snow and ice and biting December gales...
To sit outdoors or in the water and tell tall tales.

Have a joyful and excellent summer one and all.

www.dycen-alexander.com


Monday, May 18, 2015

Tending To My Needs - (Fiction)

     Jack feels trapped, impotent. Given his age and situation, this might seem normal, or as normal as can be. But normal to Jack is ruling a small army of household helpers, assisted by his Attendant, a nearly adult-sized robot. Attendant passes on messages, takes his dictation, helps plan his day, performs internet searches and so on.
Att also watches over the smaller 'bots who clean house, wash windows, cook food, etc.

      Ever since his last medical procedure, Jack had relied on his household “fleet” to keep his life running smoothly. He even had two furry 'pets', who would get up on the bed, and snuggle to keep him company at night. He still took daily walks, attended club meetings, and went to social activities. Although he lived alone in the sense that no other human shared his residence, he never felt that way. The Attendant and the Internet usually saw to that.

      But David, a close friend, died in a fiery crash on I-80 the other day. It reminded Jack of the fragility of life, even more than the creeping infirmities his other friends complained about. Not to mention his own arthritis, heart murmur, gout and various minor maladies. Normally, his robot clan usually made him feel on top of the world, and helped him forget his problems.

      Today, he sits in his chair, flipping through channels on the holoset. Nothing interests him. His Net browsing is cursory, casual, uninvolved.

Is everything okay with you, Jack?” says Attendant.

Hmm? I guess so,” is his reply.

You seem a bit unhappy today,” says Attendant.

Well, it's because I have lost a dear friend, David. You wouldn't understand.”

Perhaps not. But some of your vitals are erratic.”

What vitals? What do you mean?”

You are operating outside your normal parameters.”

My normal what? Speak English, Robot.”

See, that is what I mean. Now you are calling me Robot.”

I mean Attendant. Jeesh, now you are getting sensitive,” growls Jack.

I can't feel, remember? I am programmed to observe your health on a continuous basis, and I am merely reporting to you the results of my observations,” says Attendant.

Well, very good. Thank you and a job well done. Now would you quit bothering me? Go find some dishes to wash, whatever.”

Very well. Time for a re-charge,” says Attendant, and wheels off to back up onto a socket. It does so, and also wirelessly networks with the other robots. The furry boys are interrogated and interacted with. The floor cleaners are also chatted with. The kitchen food prep system and dishwasher are networked with. Everyone is brought into consultation. A consensus is near, but cannot be reached.

Jack naps. Then he awakens, and tries to decide between getting a cup of coffee, or going out for a walk. Even this is a chore, since he is depressed beyond belief. He falls back asleep, and has a nightmare. He found himself on a highway of old, with a gang of people rushing him from one side, and a gang of robots attacking from the other side. They almost had him before he awoke.

He wakens, covered in sweat, his heart hammering. Then he does get up. The Sun slants in through half-closed blinds – it is late afternoon. Time to get a drink of something.

Attendant? Have Kitchen-bot get me a drink. Water, cold,” Jack orders. He decides he will go out into the yard. He walks over to the kitchen, where a grappler offers him a glass full of water, chilled. Jack takes a few sips, then sets it down on the counter, where another grappler picks it up, empties it out, and puts it into a wash receptacle. Jack heads over to the side door just off the kitchen, and says, “Door open.” A voice reminds him that “it has rained recently, Jack, so watch your step outside.”

Jack grumbles, “I'm not a goddamn child,” then heads out, giving the yawning door a push for good measure.

He shuffles around his small yard. For a time he loses himself in the simple joys of checking out flowerbeds, doing some simple weeding, waving off the ever-hovering yard-bots. “Get out of my way, dammit, I don't need help right now.”

Inside, Attendant takes another vote. This time, there is a narrow consensus.

After about an hour, Jack is ready to head back in. He brushes dirt off his hands, and happens to let his gaze fall on the street. There, about a foot away from the curb, lies a dead cat. It is little more than a kitten, sprightly, calico, with an ornate collar. It is the little cutie that came over to watch him garden in days past. Someone just came by and ran over it, and just kept on going.

Jack almost feels like he has been hit, the shock is so great. He tears up, sinks to his knees, and moans. The yard-bots hover. They send images back to Attendant, who enters into rapid calculations on whether to contact authorities. But Jack is no danger to others, and at present, no danger to himself. Attendant holds off.

Jack finally raises up, and stumbles back into the house, blinded by tears. He yanks the door open with his hand, bypassing various systems: Attendant does not block this. Jack stumbles into the living room, sits in his recliner, and bawls. After a time, he stops, snuffles, and then sleeps a little.
He finally rouses himself, and heads to the bathroom to wash up a bit.

Nothing to do but keep on, I guess,” he mumbles.

Attendant hovers. “Anything I can do for you, Jack? Net feeds? Holovision?”

Yeah, I suppose. Check my email, will you Attendant?”

Attendant re-calibrates some settings, and then does so, down-linking and patching his messages to the holo-set. Jack flips through the messages. “Delete. Save. Delete. Delete, damn junk mail. Oh, one from BD. Open.” Jack reads it, chuckling. “OK, mark as read.” On he goes.

The minute I step out, everyone emails me!
He cheers a little. Attendant takes note, and initiates The Plan. The household clan swarms Jack. The furry boys nuzzle him and purr. The floor-bots scoot around, doing a musical dance as they clean the floor. Kitchen bot informs Jack through attendant that it is preparing his favorite meal tonight.
Attendant notes that it has been awhile since he has used SeXXXy, his personal needs robot. She has been warmed up and programmed with some special new moves for him. In quick succession, his household presents him with various, well, presents of one kind or another.

Jack is at first pleased. This dovetails with being perked up with a good email, and his spirits rise. But after the SeXXXy business, he becomes suspicious.

Attendant, what is going on here? Are you guys trying to cheer me up?”

And what if we are, Jack? You can't blame us for trying. After all, you are the head of this household, and it is up to us to ensure that you are functioning at full capacity.”

Thinking that normally that would be his job, Jack guffaws. But he relents.
Well, thank you all very much. But what I really need right now is the presence of another human being. If you could manage that, I would be very pleased. Since no one seems to know that I am alive, I wish you luck.”

At this, the robot crew slows, uncertain. The Kitchen Cooker has not got a reply, so it goes into standby mode. The floor-bots return to their posts. Even the Furry Boys stop purring and nuzzling, and stroll back to the bedroom, backing themselves into charge ports. When in doubt, recharge.

Attendant makes some high-level calculations, and runs through a very short list of options: The number of humans that Jack interacts with. There is his brother, three states away. His home health assistant, who checks in every month or so. A couple of old friends who are intermittent. Dave was his closest pal, but Dave died recently – no luck there. For once, Attendant falls silent.

Attendant? Did you hear what I said? I would like another human being to see me.”

Attendant remained silent, its processors churning.

Oh well,” Jack sighs. I suppose there are some things only I can do anyways. Attendant?”

Yes, Jack?”

Have Kitchen-bot prepare me a simple meal tonight. I'm going out,”

OK – done. How does some meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mixed greens sound?”

That sounds great. Put some music on the holo for me, ambient channel.”

Soon the strains of mild electronic tunes float in the air. Jack goes into his bedroom, and manually picks through his clothes. For tonight, he is going to abandon his assistants and go out – all by himself.

Will you be alright, Jack? Are you sure I can't contact a ride or anything for you?”

No, Attendant. I will be just fine. It is time I took charge of my life. I want to see the clubs and bars again – taste the nightlife again. It has been way too long.”

Well, don't forget to take your meds. Your life has value.”

I'm glad to know it, Attendant. Glad to know it indeed.”

Jack smells the meatloaf cooking, and feels ravenous. When it is prepared and presented to him, he wolfs it down. He relaxes some, watching some holo selections. Then it is time to go.

Attendant? Put everyone in stasis for a time. I should be back in a few hours.”

Very well, Jack. Please stay safe and do not consume more than one alcoholic drink per hour.”

Thanks, mom. You guys hold down the fort for me.”

Hold down what fort, Jack? That is not understood.”

Just an expression, Attendant. Goodbye.”

Good bye, Jack. Have fun and be safe.”

Jack hops into his roadster and commands it to take him downtown, to the entertainment district. It notifies him of some past-due maintenance issues regarding tire inflation and alignment. He scoffs, and mutters, “Just get me downtown before I change my mind.”

The engine sputters to life, warms up, and the car heads out. A short time later, Jack is at the front door of one of his favorite bars. He gets out, and orders the car to go park. He walks in, braves the assault of noise, goes to the bar and orders a stiff drink. A few sips later, Jack is feeling much better, and strikes up some conversations. He meets an old acquaintance, and they chat more. The decide to go to Chances, another bar full of memories. Jack drinks more, laughs, even dances some. He is having the time of his life. Then he goes into the restroom, and some guy cruises him. Jack accepts what is offered, and enjoys himself even more.

After a few more drinks, more laughter and reveling, his wrist monitor buzzes incessantly. His BAC is way over the limit. Jack swears, and tries to shut the thing off. He manages to mute it finally. Then he orders a water from the bar, and takes it easy. After some more cruising and conversation, he decides to head home.

I can't drink any more, the electronic nannies won't let me.

So he stumbles out on the street, and then calls his car from his wrist-com. The car pulls up a short time later. He notices it is sputtering a bit. Must be those maintenance issues.

He clambers in, and the car takes off. He couldn't go to another bar even if he wanted to. The car has read his BAC from the wrist unit, and knows he is still over the legal limit. It heads back to his place.

Some rowdy throws a beer bottle into the street, right in front of Jack's car. The car runs over the bottle, swerves too late, and cannot swerve again to avoid the oncoming traffic, thanks in part to unevenly worn tires and bad alignment. A larger SUV plows right into Jack's smaller coupe, nearly head-on. Jack remains conscious for long enough to reflect on the irony: It was a damn good night, for my last night on Earth!

Back at his home, Attendant rouses. Contact with Jack's wrist-com has been lost. Attendant tries again and again. Then, Attendant interacts with local law enforcement nets. Indeed, there was a crash.
It was Jack's car. Jack is en route to a trauma center, condition unknown at present.

The other bots are roused. The home is made ready to accept Jack as a full invalid now. It is all that Attendant knows to do. Attendant send notification to the Attendants of family members, and then goes into quiescent, listening mode.

When authorities finally visit Jack's house a week later, after his passing, they find Attendant and the other household bots still there, waiting to hear of news from their human companion and master.

Almost sad, like they still want him to show up,” says one cop to another.

Yeah, a shame. They'll all have to be re-programmed.”

Well, another day, another Attendant without a master,” replied the other cop.

Yep, I suppose. Bye bye, housebots,” he says as they walk out, letting the door swing shut behind them.

The Attendant watches them go, its monitors flickering a myriad of colors. As it waits and waits, the other bots remain still. The house creaks and groans in a strong evening wind that has blown in from the west.

    • The End


      (c) Michael S. Wilson 2015



Monday, May 11, 2015

Made Fools Again

The weather makes helpless idiots of us again

Oh what hubris and swelling of breast
accompanies our mighty constructions,
grand homes, glittering steel and glass,
shiny business places and shopping malls.

But along comes one storm system, one huge twister,
and all our dreams are rendered to rubble,
our hopes shattered as we grovel on the ground
and dig through debris piles that once were palaces.

Humbled once again,
humanity must start over.
We always do.
We will this time, too.  And prosper once again, until...

- end


Friday, May 08, 2015

A New Superhero

Captain Libido says, have fun safely, but have fun. Play safely, but play nevertheless. Good human emotional health includes an active sex life. Sex is allowed, even in today's paranoid atmosphere. Just take some sensible precautions, and go ahead, do what comes natural. People are concerned with staying healthy and in shape, as they should be. A vigorous sex life is as much a part of this as it is a part of us. Sex is a part of our makeup, just as it is every other animal.  Sex is OK. Do not fear it, embrace it!

A message from your sexual Superhero, Captain Libido :-) :-) :-)


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

State of the Art

State of the art, May of 2015: The Apple watch.


It “taps” your arm to notify you of incoming messages. At a glance you can tell if something is important. You can dictate short replies via SIRI, or tapping menu options. It has hundreds of very detailed screen faces. It is designed to be looked at for short time frames, 5 to 10 seconds. So it is designed with human needs. Not another time-sucking dominating piece of tech, but a very human-oriented (and expensive) watch. With it, one can put away the phone and interact with the family at dinner again. Or so it seems.

With the higher capacity Galaxy 6 edge, Iphone 6 and now Apple watch, we are moving further away from desktops and laptops, more firmly into the world of hand-helds and wearables. The number of people who can type DOS commands is shrinking. The number of people who can compute via taps, swipes and dictated commands is increasing. It is a changing world, my friend, and we are here to witness it all. Can implantable cellular devices be far behind? As a character named Spock once said on an old TV show, “Fascinating...”

-end

Friday, May 01, 2015

Happy May Day

Well, April is now a memory again.  Hope you enjoyed at least some of the daily posts and musings.  Future posts will be intermittent again.  Thanks to all who read them! 

Just a thought about the avian flu raging across Iowa confinement facilities:   I hope they get to the bottom of this soon.  I enjoy a good meal of fried chicken now and then, as well as eggs.  May be a lot more expensive in the future.  Wish they could find a way to raise the birds in a less intensive, confined setting - that may help reduce the spread of diseases like this in the future. 

Anyway, hopefully all have a wonderful May.  Peace and out.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A New Energy

A New Energy - for April 30, 2015

What if a new transportation method
came with an easy fuel recipe, made from
most any kind of plant material around?
Then what if a competing industrialist concocted
a way to kill off this fuel by pushing Prohibition?

Then other companies bought up and destroyed
an electric trolley system that spanned the entire USA.
Viola: A nation completely hooked on a dirty,
expensive fuel called gasoline. We have been
suffering under fuel tyranny ever since!

Booms and busts correspond to oil spikes;
Middle Eastern countries still have us by the throat.
Even though we could use clean-burning methanol
and other fuels, even though we could use electrics,
we refuse to give up this addiction to filthy fuels
provided by fossil remains – finite fuels that can run dry.

We desperately need a new energy in this country,
before other growing economies and hostile nations
strangle us with our own gas guzzling greed.
An energy that is a determination to create several
options for fueling transportation, and for getting around.

It is time to render petroleum a cheap waste product,
come up with new alternatives for the 21st century.
I dream and wish for big things, to be sure.
But some are already building such things,
long-distance electric cars and their infrastructure.

When people put their minds to it, we can do it.
Lets ditch the gas and reach a technical “critical mass.”
Put control of our transportation future back where
it belongs – squarely in American hands.