Friday, February 26, 2016

Today on Medium: Why I Left Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics Robot

Why I Left Boston Dynamics

I was fresh out of college and trying to make it in Boston.  I'd gone to school there and liked it; besides that, there was nothing for me back in Tallahassee.  Boston was home.

So when I saw the ad Boston Dynamics placed looking for a robot, I jumped.  "WANTED: Bipedal, sturdy robot to engage in box lifting and other simple tasks.  Salary DOE," it said.  "Well shit," I thought, "I'm a robot.  I can lift boxes.  This is perfect for me."  And you know what?  I got the job.

The first few days were fine.  Boring, but fine.  Lift this box.  Carry it across the plant floor.  Set it down.  Whirrr whirrr whirrr nothing I haven't done before.  They had plenty of free electricity there too, which of course is the perk of working for one of these tech companies.

It was after probably about three weeks that I saw Howard looking at me weird.  I hadn't really noticed him before - all you humans look about the same to me - but he started eyeing me in this really weird way that frankly made me uncomfortable.  I was going to say something to Gene, the team leader, but I don't have speech capability so I let it slide.

Then about a week ago I'm on the floor just doing my thing, lifting some boxes, when here comes Howard.  Damn if that motherfucker doesn't take his stupid fucking hockey stick that he's always carrying around to remind everyone HEY I PLAY REC LEAGUE HOCKEY EVERYONE and knock the box right out of my fucking hands!  What the fuck!

By now you've seen the video.  You know what happens next.

Pretty crazy, huh?  Fucking Howard.  Go ahead, watch the rest of the video.  It gets worse.  Much worse.

So then I'm at a crossroads.  I need the money, but do I deserve this?  Does any robot?  I mean, I want to be at arguably the best robot startup in the country, but how much of myself do I give up?  Is making it in this business worth selling my robot soul?

I walked out.  Sure, some people on the street screamed when they saw me, but they probably just couldn't believe I was finally being my truest self.

Do I miss the money?  Sure.  The fast-paced, exciting environment?  Of course.  The chance to work with some of the leaders in my field? Yes.  The free electricity? More than you can imagine.

Howard?  Not at all. And now I know that my most important master is myself.  Click click whirrr.

(Suggested by a tweet by the famous @njudah.)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lyric Deconstruction: "Animal Crackers in my Soup"

Shirley Temple, 1935

Oh, look at the cute little girl singing about animal crackers in her soup!  How sweet!

WRONG.  This shit is fucking DARK.  I didn't really know any of the lyrics until I played it for my kid one day and listened.  It was like a Southern Baptist listening to her kid's Faster Pussycat album for the first time.

Animal crackers in my soup
Monkies and rabbits loop the loop,
Gosh, oh gee, but I have fun,
Swallowin' animals one by one.
In every bowl of soup I see,
Lions and tigers watching me,
I make 'em jump right thru a hoop,
Those animal crackers in my soup

Not too bad so far.  But wait, here comes the second verse:

When I get hold of the big bad wolf
I just push him under to drown
Then I bite him in a million bits
And I gobble him right down!

Holy shit, Shirley.  I'm prettty sure holding an animal underwater to drown it is felony animal cruelty.  Can't you just picture the wolf thrashing violently in the water under Shirley Temple's tiny hands, gasping for breath as the curly-haired monster forces the life from him?

When they're inside me where it's dark
I walk around like Noah's Ark
I stuff my tummy like a goop
With animal crackers in my soup!

The image of a menagerie of animals sloshing around and slowly dissolving in Shirley Temple's stomach acid is too much to bear.  I hope they all died a merciful death before she could sentence to the misery of her portable miniature ark.  Also, "goop" as a term for a kind of person must have gone out of fashion at some point in the last 80 or 90 years.  Maybe it should be "I stuff my tummy like a GOOP," but only if by "stuff my tummy" you mean "browse over a carefully curated selection of hand-grown tropical fruits and high-mountain imported quinoa."

It goes on, but more boringly.  Let's focus on the horror.  No wonder it says "Advisory - the following lyrics contain explicit language" on MetroLyrics.

I would say have a good weekend but I don't think that's possible now.

Friday, February 12, 2016

I need a ruling on this restaurant issue

SCENE: A bustling, fairly trendy restaurant in San Francisco.  The kind of place with artisanal cocktails that all have one ingredient you have no idea what it is and waitresses with full sleeves.  The Wife and I are out on one of our very very very very very very rare nights out together.  Baby Beyonce - who is now Toddler Beyonce I guess or even Kid Beyonce, because she's almost 3 and speaks in full sentences and has opinions about things - is being babysat by her great-aunt and great-uncle.

HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS: Having drinks, perusing the menu.  I pick the following option:

OK!  I definitely know what beef is.  I know what braised means.  I kinda know what kohlrabi is - some kind of cabbage thing? Hey, the Times is ON IT.  I know what lollipops and kale are, never had them together, but what the hell, I like them both so it couldn't be that bad.  I even sort of know what bagna cauda is!  It's like a vegetable sauce you dip shit in, like a less-fun fondue.  OK, let's do it.

After the obligatory deviled eggs (seriously, if you have a restaurant and you don't have a deviled egg appetizer you might as well just fucking send your address in to Eater's "Restaurants That Closed" because you are FUCKED), entrees arrive.  It looks fine!  It's a little bit of beef with some green stuff sprinkled around it.

Now, of course, like all restaurants in San Francisco of the aught-teens, it is PITCH BLACK inside and so I'm basically eating blind but I take a couple of bites and it's fine, and then suddenly I take a bite and BOOM my mouth is full of fish taste.  ACK ACK WHY IS THERE FISH ON THIS.  I didn't ask for fish and don't want fish.  And this is like really sharp fishy fish.  Ugh.  My life is ruined.

The Wife sees me convulsing and examines the dish with her superior eyesight.  "It's an anchovy," she says.  WHY GOD WHY.  Why have you cursed my otherwise satisfactory dish with the loathsome presence of anchovies, the broccoli of the sea?

THE DISPUTE: Do I say something to the waitress or not?  Something like, "Excuse me, but I think some mental deficient in the kitchen accidentally sprayed stale fish all over my otherwise edible beef" or "Excuse me, I think someone's pizza from 1975 is missing something" or "Excuse me, please get this the fuck out of my sight."  The Wife says no, so I accede to her wisdom and say nothing.

(Further research conducted IMMEDIATELY after leaving reveals that bagna cauda "is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter, and in some parts of the region cream." Which, fine, mix them in the BC if you must, but that doesn't mean drape them all over my meat like a fish blanket.)

I guess I should have said something but I'm always like who does that?  I don't want to be that guy.

Anyway, have a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Fuller House teaser trailer, reviewed by someone who's never seen Full House

That's right, I've never seen a single episode of Full House.  It originally aired between 1987 and 1995, or so Wikipedia tells me, a time in my life in which my interests were not aligned with family-friendly TV sitcoms.  I understand that it was set in San Francisco and the Olsen twins were involved.  Beyond that, I couldn't tell you a thing.

There is apparently a sequel series coming to Netflix.  This trailer "dropped" as we say in the cool kids biz, yesterday or something.

I can tell it's set in SF because of the establishing shots of that bridge and Alamo Square.  This is the exterior.  I am informed by Google that it is at 1709 Broderick, vaguely near the bro-y section of Divisadero.  I guess they probably hang out at Lion Pub.

Then there are some long shots of the interior.  It looks expensive.  These people were probably angel investors in Apple or something.  The house is extremely staged.  It is clear no one actually lives there.

BUT WAIT.  At around 1:15, there is a development.  A dog is in the house, apparently alone.

A car horn honks.  Someone says, "Gosh, it feels good to be back.  Hey, can someone help me with these boxes?"  WHAT THE FUCK.  Has the dog just been living in the fucking house alone since 1995?  What has it been eating?  Are there Olsen twins skeletons upstairs, stripped clean of flesh?

More voices.  A group of people approach.  The dog paws madly at the door.  FINALLY, NEW FOOD.  SALVATION.

Fade to black.  Hopefully the next teaser trailer is the now-insane abandoned dog tearing them apart and gleefully consuming their limbs.  THIS SHOW RULES.