We spent lunch bickering over what to call Robomo. I suggested Lionel, while management liked Rob, but Dan clinched it by coming out with Momo.
In the afternoon, Jessica and I were working in a garden on a small side street. She was crossing the road to get to the van, when a Mercedes whizzed around the corner. She jumped out the way just in time. The driver stopped, wound down the window, and said cheerily,
‘Oh, don’t worry, I wouldn’t run you over, you do such a good job. The garden looks lovely!’
I feel sorry for all the people crossing the road who don’t do such a good job.
I quite liked turning up to work this morning and seeing the robo mower trundling about, it’s like a pet. Myself and Dan tried playing with it for a while, standing in robo-mow’s way so that it turned around. But I guess it got annoyed, because then it started charging at our feet, little blades whirring away. Mike just shouts at it like it’s a disobedient dog (‘Go on! Get back in your hutch!’) or complains about its mowing skills (‘Look! It’s cut the grass too low!’ ‘It’s wrecked those edges!’) Mateo sneers at it, (‘You fuckin’ bastard!’)
While I do like the innocent nature of the robo-mow, I’m not sure it’s going to work out as a new member of our team. It has no method to its mowing, just trundles in a straight line until it hits something, then turns at any old angle and shuffles off. Such a random method takes ages to cut all the grass. That’s fine on a small, fairly regular patch of grass, but we need it to cut one of the huge, oddly shaped lawns that continue across paths. I’m not sure it would ever finish.
My plan is to see if I can retrain it as a robot dog. I’d enjoy the company while I’m working, and if any of the residents start to give me trouble, little pooch can scare them off. Not sure how to do this though, any ideas?
‘It’s the beginning of the end!’ wailed Mike. ‘You see, we’ll all be gone by Christmas. Unemployed!’
We all perked up at the thought.
Anyway, you’re wondering what’s happened to distress the usually calm and collected Mike. Our benevolent rulers have bought a robotic lawnmower. (Why the designers chose that name and not robomo, I can’t imagine.) Since Mike is our main mower, and as the oldest, gets a bit paranoid about losing his job (he has no need to, everyone loves him and our place of work would decay to a soulless husk within weeks without him) he sees the robomo as a direct threat.
‘Look at him, evil, lurking,’ said Mike as the happy little robot trundled along. The rest of us started making plans for googly eyes or deely boppers to decorate our new robot colleague, while Mike made plans for a terrible accident to occur. Our boss kindly informed Mike that this robot is not seen as a replacement, but as a way to free up our time for other gardening, but Mike isn’t convinced.
‘This is how it starts!’ he whispered to me.
Have any of you had to worry about automation taking your job?
When computers first started to get clever enough to do our jobs, they promised us a life filled with leisure instead of work. I don’t why that suddenly became Humans, you are obsolete! Keep out the way and starve quietly!
There is, apparently, an epidemic of loneliness amongst the middle-aged and elderly. Opportunities to meet other single people in an ‘organic’ manner are vastly reduced as we get older and for some people, many of whom may have been in a stable relationship for many years, the whole business of meeting new people can be a bridge too far. It is with some surprise, therefore, that I learn that Speed Dating, the most synthetic and pressurised mode of social intercourse that humankind has yet devised, has, for an increasing proportion of ageing singletons, become the preferred manner of meeting people and, perhaps, finding a partner. I tried to imagine how this might work…
DING! Mary: …Are you alright? Tom: Yes, it’s these chairs. What’s the point of the arm rests? It’s a bugger of a job to get into them without popping the front of your shirt out of your trousers – not ideal when you’re trying to make an impression; especially when you’ve not really had time to change your vest since last Sunday’s gravy incident – also, could put your hip out; twist too far trying to get your knees under these tables… Mary: Right… well… I see. Yes. Well, I’m told that the best thing to do, because we’re obviously time-limited, is to get the personal details out of the way first, so, I’m Mary, I’m a retired teacher. I like walking on the beach in the early morning. I love music and books – clichéd I know, but true – and I’m allergic to cats. You? Tom: I’m… ooh, excuse me. I had beans for lunch. Always do that to me, beans, still, better out than in eh? Mary: Well… I suppose… Tom: Tom. I spend my time in the pub mainly. Don’t have many friends, that’s why I’m here: thought that I might be able to get a bit of… well, you know, woman of the world and all that. Teacher. Don’t just learn about such things, if you catch my drift, eh… Mary: Er… well, I don’t really… Oh, there’s the bell. Tom: Bell? Mary: Yes, the bell. Time to move on I think. Tom: I didn’t hear a bell. Mary: Really. I definitely heard the bell. Tom: Nobody’s moving. Mary: I am…
Any of you keeping track might know that I bought a new laptop a few days ago. And in many ways it is great – it doesn’t take half an hour to open Word, it doesn’t crash at the sight of WordPress and it’s not held together by elastic bands and bulldog clips.
However, there’s one small problem. When I was looking at the website, the size of the hard drive was listed as two different amounts: 1 terabyte (huge!) and 250 gigabytes (foolishly small). After reading the reviews and asking Hamoudi what he thought, we came to the conclusion that it had two hard drives and one was 250GB and the other was 1TB. We were both wrong.
So what turned up was a laptop that has only 250 GB of space, once I put photos and music on it, it was half full. So I wrote to the dealers, and said very sweetly, ‘YOU LIED TO ME’.
A nice woman wrote back asking for proof of the misleading website, which I sent, she said ‘Urrr, ok I’ll get back to you in a bit.’ I said ‘cool, btw I don’t want to return the laptop, I just want to be compensated for the external hard drive I’ll have to buy.’
Yesterday afternoon I checked my email, nothing. Then late last night the doorbell rang with a parcel for me. It was an external hard drive for 1 terabyte. No note, still no email, but exactly what I wanted. That they didn’t contact me to tell me it was coming made this an obvious shut up and go away gesture, which is fine by me, I love being paid off.
Complaining can work, my friends. Just don’t abuse it.
Word of the day: Gudgeon – a person easily cheated
“there’s no defense except all the errors made”
― Charles Bukowski, Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit
So yesterday I believed I had the power of King Cnut and could control the cars. By merely strolling up to the side of the road, the stream of traffic would halt and wait for me to cross, UNTIL I got to the middle of the road, when cars coming in the other direction would speed towards me without a care. This was clearly an awesome, but mightily flawed power.
Well, shockingly, it turns out I don’t have this power at all. Actually, they have changed the traffic lights so that the lights on one side of the road change about twenty seconds sooner than the lights on the other side of the road (although for the pedestrians it’s only one crossing). This means that people blithely cross when the cars on the near side stop and then nearly get hit when somebody shoots round the bend on the other side.
There’s going to be an accident!
And for all those sick of hearing about hashtags (not from me, just in general):
Walking home I reached the pedestrian crossing, where the little man was red and the cars were trundling ahead. But as I stopped at the side of the road all the cars on my side of the road also stopped. The little man didn’t change to green, but I assumed it would in a moment and started crossing. I got to the halfway point when a car came whizzing along on the other side of the road. I thought ‘What a wanker! The lights are red, it could’ve hit me!’
Then I realised the little man still hadn’t changed to green. So the cars must have stopped on one side of the road even though the lights hadn’t changed. It was a whole line of cars, but nobody honked, they simply sat waiting as I crossed the road. Odd eh?
Bizarre word of the day: Camelopard – giraffe
Yes a giraffe used to be called a camelopard (or cameleopard) because most people hadn’t seen an actual giraffe, and assumed it looked like a cross between a camel and a leopard. That idea came from the picture of a giraffe below, drawn in 1655 .