Slow books, wonky electronics, killer robots, and cat empathy

You may have noticed that I haven't updated my reading list lately. I haven't given up; I'm just finding the current book, Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, extremely slow going. One reviewer on Goodreads described it as "easy to put down," an assessment with which I can't argue. It's a slog, but it's also chock full o' useful insights about what does and doesn't work with regards to city planning. I'll give it a full write-up when I'm done, but it's taking me almost as long to read as Pynchon, so be patient.


I'm in the technology business, and when it comes to support, there's a certain scenario that happens so often it's not even a joke anymore. One of our users will put in an urgent request for help, I'll wander over to their desk, ask them to show me what's wrong, and whatever problem they were having will disappear simply due to my looking over their shoulder. They say they're doing the exact same thing (and I believe them), but everything will work swimmingly.

It happened to me yesterday.

I took one of my keyboards into the shop (the lovely folks at Switched On, thanks for asking) because my Radio Shack synth was acting wonky.  They plugged it in, tried it out, and absolutely everything I was having trouble with worked fine. Honestly, it worked better than fine because they're all way better than me at playing it. Hrmph. Anyway, there was no charge, which was cool. I took it home, plugged it back in, and damned if everything didn't work exactly as it was supposed to. So, if you were wondering whether "it" ever happened to IT folks? You betcha!


So, it's gong to happen. We're going to go see what I think is the potentially the greatest sport on Earth in April: BATTLEBOTS. Two, 250-pound robots battling to the, if not death, then at least something very much like it. It's incredibly violent, but nobody gets hurt, being smart counts for more than being strong, and there's a fine balance between the engineering skill to build 'em and the skill to drive 'em. Oh, never mind. Just watch this and you'll understand:

We're going to see the final, which I imagine will be the long-awaited showdown between Minotaur and Tombstone. I am so lucky to be married to a woman who wouldn't just tolerate this sort of silliness, but would actually be more into it than I am (and I can assure you, I am into it). Actually, I'm pretty lucky to be with her, full stop.


I'm not sure why, but it only just hit me the other night how weird it is that my cat, all twelve pounds of him, feels perfectly comfortable sleeping between the two of us. I'm something approaching twenty times his size, so it wouldn't take much rolling over to make his life difficult, but he just trusts us and lies down directly between the two of us. Can you imagine that if the roles were reversed? I wonder what goes through his little head. It just seems really unlikely and kind of mind-blowing that a creature that can't even meaningfully communicate with us could develop that kind of trust outside of his species.

And so to bed, where I know I'll find a little grey cat patiently waiting for me to settle in next to him.

-RK