Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rocking Robots - Redux

Ugh…the humidity’s back again. After a day of sub-fall weather last week, they’re trying to fool us into thinking its cooler.  But the humidity screws that theory all up…not to mention the top of my head….which always reminds me of robots….


You try coming up with a clever segue into an old post when you can’t unstick your eyelids….


Original Post  11/21/11

Maybe the future is coming after all.


Have you seen these little Asimo robot guys that the Honda-Robotics  people are developing?  They’re so lifelike—at least in a robot kind of way—you’d swear there was a little person jumping around inside a robot suit.

So maybe having little robot maids, like The Jetson’s Rosie, isn’t all that far off, after all.

They kind of resemble those Storm Trooper guys from the original Star Wars, except they’re only about 4 feet tall, which is good since you want your robot Storm Troopers to be on the diminutive side.  Especially when they’re still in the planning stage and who knows what can happen.

They’ve been ironing the kinks out of these little fellas since about 2000. Apparently, all they did, originally, was wave their arms around, wildly, shouting, “It does not compute… It does not compute…Danger...Danger....”

Now they serve drinks, jump around on one foot—I guess just cuz they can—step around you when you get in their way, anticipate your every move and adjust their behavior, appropriately to satisfy your every need.

Just like being married…without the attitude.

Personally, I like that whole waiting on you hand and foot thing.  You don’t see a lot of  hand and foot waiting going on around here…at least not at my house. How great would it be to have a robot lay out your clothes, pour you a drink, even prepare you a late night snack…actually late at night. All the things I’ve been secretly conditioning Z to do for years, without much success, I might add. That whole bell ringing conditioning thing only seems to work on dogs, plus the salivation issues are not particularly desirable. 

Right now, these little guys walk around like Howdy Doody, with these perpetually flexed knees; so that’s a bit creepy. But they seem to be pretty nimble and I’m figuring they’ll work that out pretty soon.  I’m not sure if they talk at all, though you might not really want a chatty robot telling you all about its day, complaining about this and complaining about that. I think we should leave something for us to do...especially something we’re good at.

I’m also guessing that eventually they’ll figure out a way to lose the little Storm Trooper look and come up with a more lifelike human shell. Maybe with some sort of highly advanced synthetic skin and hair, so advanced that we would never be able to tell them apart from real people, except for their consisitently pleasant demeanor and willingness to let you cut ahead of them on the express line, even when you have more than 15 items.

Actually, I read where they already have that capability but don’t utilize it for fear it might creep the real humans out.  But have you seen Mickey Rourke these days.  It makes you wonder.

Seriously, another company called Hanson Robotics  has created this little Albert Einstein robot, that looks and sounds just like the real thing…except, again,  he’s only 4 feet tall and pretty much still resembles the storm trooper from the neck down. Plus he’s always going on and on with that relativity thing, which annoys the other scientists to no end.

Enough, Albert…we get it already!

It’s just kind of exciting to think about all the possibilities.

I’m imagining a little Jennifer Aniston robot…uh, bringing me a sandwich.  

A tiny Tom Cruise, which I think would be to actual scale, outside stacking my firewood, just because I don’t want him in the house with me and Jenifer.

Oprah…just so she can comfort me when I feel sad, and tell me what books to read.

The Osmond’s….

Gary Busey, just for kicks.

The list is endless….

Of course we have to be mindful of the down side to all this.  I mean if they keep making better and better robots that are smarter than us, stronger than us, cheaper than us…why would we need us?  And how long do you think it will take these machines to figure that out?

I guess that’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger is for.  But has anyone looked under his hood lately?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Beach Finale – Part 3 - Redux

One last foray into vacation past, which to be honest is quite a bit like vacation present and I'm guessing future too.  We're just that set in out ways.


Original Post 8/5/11

So it’s the last day of vacation and it’s hard to believe something you wait all year for is just about over. Sometimes it feels as if the anticipation of vacation is better than the actual vacation itself.  But that feeling mostly occurs only after Thursday arrives. Not so much on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or even Tuesday. 

I used to share this feeling with some of the others we’d spend the week with in the past. I would do a reverse psychology thing by announcing I couldn’t believe it was “Thursday” already, when it was only Monday…sometimes Sunday.

At first they thought I was suffering from heat stroke and was delirious, but they soon caught on that it was just me being me; something they were used to and, for the most part, wished I’d be somebody else, someplace else. 

One of the other beach goers I was vacationing with at the time, had wondered—as she was prone to wondering, all sorts of things—what day of the week I would say my life was at if it were comparable to a Saturday thru Friday week of our vacation?

I immediately answered “Tuesday!”, since I sincerely believed that while I’d been around the block a few times already, I certainly had a lot of blocks left to circle, not to mention waves to ride.

She responded in a straightforward, yet slightly sad tone of voice; sitting, alone, in the backseat of my car, on our way to listen to a group of faux Beatles perform at a park by the harbor. 

I’d say I’m on a Thursday or maybe even Friday.”

I looked back through the rear view—to be honest, a little numbed by the coolness with which she spoke—and caught her eye.

I really do,” she continued.

The saddest part was I couldn’t argue the point with her, which was odd because there weren’t many points we couldn’t find to argue about at that time.

Of course, I poo pooed it, since it was just the kind of situation that begged a poo poo-ing, but I somehow understood where she was coming from.

Not too long after that, her life slowly did begin to take a new direction and for the most part, the life she had been living up to that point, by her choice, did eventually end and a new one began, again, by her choice. 

We don’t keep in touch as closely as we once had so I couldn’t tell you what day she feels that she’s on right now, but I’m hoping it’s at least a Tuesday; if not a Monday.

Most of all I hope she’s happier now and remains that way for a long, long time to come.

She deserves that.

Everyone does....

What? You thought I was going to tell you she took a header off the Tappan Zee.

Nah…not her; she’s much too stubborn, and much too cheap to waste the toll.

Anyway, that was certainly not how I had intended to begin summing up vacation week, but they say you’re just supposed to go with whatever pops into your head with these things, and that’s what popped up into mine.

Fridays at the shore are kind of melancholy and reflective, anyway.  Like I said, you wait and wait for this and then poof, it’s over. But the reflection makes the time that’s passed easier to absorb.  Let’s face it…a week is a week is a week, no matter where you spend it.  And you almost never get any change.

Some fog rolled into town about mid-week.  Someone said it had come over from Philadelphia, because, hey, even fog needs a change of scenery once in while.

It was a nice fog, however, very well mannered, and for the most part it allowed the sun to cut through its delicate mist and kept us power bronzing; except for the woman with very milky Irish skin who had cultivated a very nice shade of crimson throughout the week.

At night, the streets had this very cool Transylvania vibe going on, and I couldn’t help but think of the Ax Murder and how much he would have enjoyed this; not to mention the lobster rolls at Buckalews.

By Thursday morning the fog had gone wherever fogs go—Newark, I think— and we were back in full sunshine…and inappropriate thongs, which are bad enough on some women, let alone this guy. 

That evening, we enjoyed a nice sunset with Old Barney, the local lighthouse, and a quick crab cake dinner, at a nearby crab shack . 

Friday morning brought us to the beach for one last abbreviated visit, albeit an 8 hour visit, yet curtailed none the less by some nasty storm clouds that snuck in behind us, late in the afternoon.

I never saw a beach clear out so quickly.

It was as if someone had spotted Snooki vomiting down the beach.

 I know…I’ve mentioned Snooki several times over the course of these retorts.  Perhaps I'm secretly in love with her. I mean with that semi beehive lump thing on her head, and her delicate ways, how could I not be.

For the most part Z’s okay with it, but all week long she refused to indulge me by semi beehive lumping her own hair, which I found unreasonable.

So the storm, which ultimately never came, denied me my usual opportunity to dwell on the beach until the sea gulls had picked all the trash cans clean, as is my wont. 

I did what I'd gotten pretty good at, which was have a cocktail on the deck, and thought about going back down, but at that point I felt as if I had been spared that sad experience and left well enough alone.

Besides…there’s no boo boo face on vacation.
Not for this Beach Buckaroo….

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It’s Vacation! - Part 2 - Redux

It’s cooled off here….a little. I suppose being happy with 85 degrees is like being happy with $3.69 a gallon gas. We'll take what we can get.
It’s still about a gazillion % humidity though, which means a lot of odd hair-dos abound. But they say it’s all coming to an end, some time today. They say the Canadians are finally going to send us some dry air, which is the least they can do.  I guess they’re all excited like the rest of the folks from the Empire across the sea about this Royal baby. Of course most of us commoners, and even some of the un-commoners here in “The Colonies” can’t really relate to all that hub bub…unless of course it relates to a Kardasian. Besides, when we think of a person as being Royal, we immediately envision Smurfs.

Or is that just me?
And now, back to vacation 2011…..

Original Post 8/3/11

At vacation half-time there’s not much to retort, which, like I said last time, is actually a good thing. 

You don’t want to be writing about untoward incidents regarding loud mouth 240 lb. women from East Goshen who object to being counseled on the appropriateness of women their age and girth wearing two piece bikini thongs; especially if small children are in the vicinity who are in danger of being swallowed into one of their numerous folds.

You don’t want to be writing about that.

Things are quiet and that’s pretty much how you want beach vacations to go. We’ve had the place to ourselves since the Ax Murderer went home.  I hope he’s doing okay; he seemed a little quiet as he was packing to leave and he had a funny look in his eye. Really not at all like the Ax Murder I had come to appreciate in my much too short a time with him.  I guess he was sad about the end of his vacation.

The weather’s been fantastic!  Warm sunny days and cool dry nights. No AC needed here.  

The tide's been low in the mornings so we’ve pretty much settled into a relaxing routine of hitting the beach by 9 AM and taking an hour walk up and down the beach. 

The first couple of days we took long walks down the main drag, along the bicycle path that leads to the bird sanctuary at the end of the island. That’s kind of an interesting walk because there’s such a pretty view when you finally get there, not to mention a rest room, which is always a plus. In addition, you get to watch a whole lot of folks who haven’t seen a lick of exercise all year peddling away, or jogging by. 

Some seem like they never missed a beat and others…well, like they missed the whole song. It’s a little nerve racking wondering if you’re going to have to stop and administer CPR every few minutes; at least for Z who’s a nurse and knows this stuff. Not so much for me, who’s an idiot and would just stand there shouting, “Whoa, that’s gross.”

On the other hand, beach walking is good for the soul; but a little hard on the soles of your feet, especially if you’re not vigilant when it comes to the multitude of shells scattered about the water’s edge. But as Z reminds me, again and again and again and again…and again, it’s a beach, dumb head; of course there’s shells!

Did I mention Z is very kind?

Actually we have that kind of fun  quirky relationship where she’ll say something disparaging to me in an amusing kind of way, and I’ll just nod quietly and say Yes, dear, of course dear”, for fear of having my neck twisted in my sleep.
But I usually deserve it....

There’s a variety of sea life all around us as we stroll.  Heron, slippery eel—both in the water and in some of the seaside bars—playful Manta Rays and even a sand shark or two.

If you’re lucky, and have a sharp eye, like Z, you can share the morning with a school of wandering Dolphins gracefully breaching up and over the waves.

It’s a always special when the Dolphins arrive.  Sun-bathers jump up from their beach chairs, sun-worriers pop out from under their umbrella ellas and everyone starts pointing and shouting for their kids to drop their shovels and boogie boards to come witness the event.

In metaphysical terms the dolphin are supposed to be representatives or messengers of a sort between the worlds of reality and…scripted TV.

No…just kidding.

Sorry couldn’t resist. 

Between the worlds of reality and the not so real; or maybe even more real, depending on your point of view.

And now that I think of it maybe that is kind of like reality TV.
Anyway, you’re supposed to pay attention to their presence because they're carrying a message about matters pertaining to something going on in your life. And yes, I’m talking to YOU, the fat lady in the thong. They’re telling you to cover that stuff up!

The life guards here don’t start guarding until 10, but they’re on the beach way before that going through all kinds of drills and things. Personally I’m not so sure it’s such a good idea to run our lifeguards ragged before they even get in the chair, but I guess it works. They always manage to drag me back on the shore in record time.

After the walk it’s just a day of SSN&R; swimming, snacking, napping and reading. 

Yeah…I know.  Poor us.

The evenings are usually a combination of cocktails on the deck, then more cocktails on the deck.  Some nights we stay in and BBQ and on others we venture out for a drive on the Island and taste of some of the local cuisine. We’ll cruise some of the local shopping establishments, purchase gifts for family and friends. Play some miniature golf; take a spin through the amusement park…then more cocktails on the deck.

And did I mention the cocktails on the deck.

Hey, it’s vacation….

Then we hit the hay, which is a very odd tradition of ours, I know; sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

Sounds pretty dull, huh? 

Well, that’s what makes it so exciting.

And somehow I managed to write over 600 words about nothing.

Go figure….

Next time I’ll tell you even more about nothing.

Again…it’s vacation.

Yeah…I know.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beach Vacation -Part 1 - Redux

So we’re back…ensconced in our little abode after a few sunny days down by the shore.While shorter, time wise and more cramped, space wise, it actually worked out quite nicely.

The beach has a way of doing that for you…helping you to appreciate the time at hand, rather than the time lost…or the time at foot, which is completely different, altogether.  

Of course, I still haven’t jotted any of the details down, as of yet…so here’s a recounting of a similar beach trip a couple of years ago…in three parts no less.

Hey…these things take time to unspool.

Time at hand…remember.

Time at foot…forget….

Original Post 8/1/11

I’m sitting on a tall beach house deck as I write; about 50 feet from the Atlantic.

Ocean, that is…Atlantic Ocean. 
There’s an amazing full moon tonight spreading a liquid path across miles of placid waves.

It makes for a perfect background on a perfect summer night at the Jersey shore.  Best thing is…no Snooki not even a Wooki.

So I’m not, so much, in a crappy mood any more because the beach is where crappy moods go to die. 

Seriously, these dusty beach roads are littered with them and you really have to watch where you step; not to mention the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets….

Apologies to the Boss for stealing his line as a reference…but hey, it’s the Jersey shore. Who better to steal from… “The Situation”?

Aside from the mysterious gouge that appeared on my knee, along with the assorted scrapes and bruises, things are going pretty well.  Not sure where the bruises came from but the gouge came from my knee, my bad knee, running into the pointed handle on the cabinet under the bathroom sink. There’s a nice bit of DNA still there, for the CSI boys if things should go south from here. 

Next door, there’s a very heated beer pong game in progress.  I don’t understand beer pong. Guzzling a cup of beer that has been sweetened with a ping pong ball that’s been rolling around in the dirt and crud of a garage all night. 

                                                       Good times…

We hit the road at 7 AM, right on schedule, Saturday morning. First stop...the Cheesequake service area and rest stop on the Garden State Parkway. About the halfway point to the part of the Jersey shore we were heading. 

Rest stops are an interesting place, with a lot of interesting people coming and going.  You can observe a pretty good cross section of the whole of humanity passing by in just about five minutes, standing there by the men’s room, sipping your Frappuccino.  And I have to tell you, much of humanity is kind of chubby and looks pretty bad in shorts.

Not to mention the funny looks on their faces from about two or three hours’ worth of backed up bladders.

They look a little better going out than coming in, which is usually the reverse when it comes to normal humanity.

I guess the Frappuccino’s and Coolata’s also help.

After resisting the multitudes of deals on sunglasses on display we're back on our way and in short measure we arrive at our little island of paradise by the sea.

But we have to kill a few hours before we can take possession of our humble little beach abode. So we have breakfast at a little outdoor cafĂ©; but no guitars playing… all night, nor all day.  Just Emily, our waitress, who couldn’t distinguish between white toast and an English muffin…but hey, it a beach town 

Speaking of town, after breakfast we hit the shops and discovered that the merchants here have come up with a pretty smart idea!  They actually sell T-shits and sweatshirts, and all kinds of stuff with the name of the place on them. 

Brilliant!  Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

Finally we’re able to access our little beach haven, a new house this year, for just the two of us instead of the usual ten. So it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment…maybe, but maybe not.

The house is nice; pretty much like our old place, except we’re confined to the upstairs apartment, which requires a short climb up the back stairs. 

There’s a nice view of the ocean from the corner of the deck, and the Ax Murderer downstairs seems nice.

We unpack as fast as we can. I put on and take off the wet bathing suit the previous renter left behind, which I mistook for my own…and off to the beach we go.

Then back again, since we were so excited that we forgot to bring our beach chairs…and our towels…and our blanket.

Hey, it’s a learning curve…okay?

Eventually, we make our way through the dense weekend crowd to stake out our own little spot of sand where we can actually hear the ocean waves…somewhere…not far away.

And you know that whole bunch of chubby humanity I was talking about earlier? Well, they look even worse in bathing suits.  But then, I’m no Brad Pitt either. I’m not even a peach Pit, whatever that means. 

Afterwards, drinks on the deck, some small talk with the Ax Murderer and a nice causal terrazzo dinner.

Sunday was more of the same, which is definitely a good thing; except the Ax Murder had to go  back to work, which was a bit of a disappointment, since I miss his witty banter.

More Retort in a couple of days….It’s my turn to pong…

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pre-Vacation Day...The Worst of all Days - Redux

We just returned from the Jersey Shore...because, you know...we're.."Stronger than the Storm".

Well, sort of.

We actually only went for a few mid-week days this year, because...well, just because.

We weren't going to go at all, but then Saturday came and I started thinking about all the things I should be doing down there and wasn't. 
"Ahhhh…this is about the time when I run screaming into the first public rest room on the island because I've been holding it in since Cheesequake…and then the door is usually locked….ahhhhhh” 

So I took a chance and called one of the motels…and lo and behold they had some rooms. 

Well, they always have rooms….but they actually had vacant rooms. 

So I hid Z’s car keys juts before she was about to head out for Zumba and wouldn’t give them back until she agreed to go. 

So we went…and now we’re back…already.


Of course I haven’t had any time to write anything up about it, so in keeping with this summer’s current theme of irresponsibility….

Original Post 7/29/11  

Today is pre-vacation prep day. 

The worst of all days. 

We’re heading out for a week at the Jersey shore tomorrow. 

Z usually takes the day before we leave off and, well, you can guess the rest.

The first thing is to prepare a list of all the lists that need to be made.

The second thing is to adhere to the lists and check completed things off the list as we go. If items are attended to that were not previously on the list, they are added to the list…and then checked off...the list.

Of course packing is a big item on the list. There’s all sorts of packing. There’s food packing. Food preparation packing. Beverage packing, both non and non-non-alcoholic. There’s entertainment packing, which has become much more manageable with the advent of the IPod. No more lugging around 500 CDs just in case you feel moved to play “Lime in the Coconut” one night.

There’s linen and towel packing, pillow packing, shoe packing, sundry packing, mondry packing and tuesdray packing, as well. Snack packing, which is in addition to food packing, book packing and of course, clothes packing, which most definitely includes bathing suits and towels, since we are going to the beach for a week. 

Don’t laugh…it’s been known to happen; but not with us…not with the list…no way!

Once the lists have been scrutinized and check assured, car packing can now commence. The car is carefully backed down the driveway so that the packing materials can be efficiently hauled off the deck and onto the driveway, where the Rubik’s cube of packing can begin. You might think that packing a Hyundai with the stuff of two people should be pretty easy, but you would be wrong. 

As you know, if you’re shore savvy, weather wise, the beach is a funny place. While it may be warm and sunny at 11 AM, it can be cold, windy and cloudy by 4 PM. Therefore one must pack accordingly and pretty much just bring everything they own, including that natty sweater from Aunt Louise.

So there’s a lot of stuff and we kind of look like this when we're done.

I’ve actually thought of photographing or diagraming past packing’s to expedite things; but I thought that might be excessive. Not to mention weird. Besides, after a while it becomes second nature; until you buy a new car and then you start all over again. So it’s best to keep what you drive as a long as you can.  And 1988 was a good year for Hyundai’s.

Once ALL the packing and list checking is completed, a call to our house sitters, Gunter and Gerde, is made to assure them that their required supply of lutefisk is in the basement fermenting. We also let them know that there’s a brand new cushy sofa in the living room for their two very large, very scary, Great Danes, Hans and Feats, to have their way with.

It’s nice to know the place will be in good hands while we’re away, and the smell of week old lutefisk is always oddly reassuring upon our return.

Before we found Gunter and Gerde, we would just lock everything up tight and take all the usual vacation precautions; stop the mail and the papers, etc.

Z would leave a note behind with our mobile phone numbers, just in case any intruders wanted to get in touch with us; you know, in case they couldn’t figure out the remote for the flat screen or where we kept the “good” gin.

Z would also clean the place like a fiend the day before we left and make sure all the trash baskets were empty in the morning.  She always claimed that it was nice to come home to a clean house.  But I always suspected that she was really planning ahead in case we became shark food, and she didn’t want the “bereaved” relatives who came over to pick through all our stuff to think we had a messy house.

So, with all that in place, we look toward an early morning departure in hopes of beating the incessant traffic on the Garden State Parkway. 

Best of all, we’re now free to hit our pillows, which mostly prevents us from hitting each other. 

I mean vacation prep is stressful…list or no lists.

Check back in a couple of days and I’ll update you on our progress.  

I better add that to the list….