Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Wattle they allow next?

 What began with a simple gobble blossomed into so much more.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Computers invent new creative paint color names

I wish I had a name as cool as paint. I would love to introduce myself to people as Kilim Beige. 

Imagine the impact in a waiting room full of actors at an audition when the casting director calls out "Tricorn Black?" and you purr "Why, yes." 

A lot of thought goes into naming paint; more thought, I expect, than goes into most arms deals. I mean, "Adventure Orange" and "Silken Peacock" didn't just think themselves up. 

We are living in a time when people are trying to technologize things that never were before and do not need to be. This is both unnecessary and entertaining. Like with paint. 

I read about this scientist who used a neural network, computers rigged to work together to learn like a brain, to come up with new paint colors. This solved one problem which did not exist—effortlessly naming paint—and one which did—me needing a laugh. 

Output from neural networks are, understandably, only as good as their "training" parameters. Early results included hues like "Black Hand" (sea foam green) and "Gray Pubic," the shade of a perfect springtime sky. 

With some tweaks, there came "Burf Pink" and "Horble Gray." The shades were pink and gray, at least, but the names would not scream "Buy me!" to a consumer. 

When the parameters were set to their highest refinement, the neural network came up with a brownish shade it called "Bunflow." Then there was "Caring Tan," and a pale violet it named "Bank Butt." 

In its wisdom, it created a battleship gray it called "Flower." And some gems like "Stoner Blue" and "Stanky Bean." 

More of my favorites included "Burble Simp" and the evocative "Turdly." A deep forest green was named "Catbabel." But the best one of all, and even funnier to you British readers, was "Snowbonk." 

In the 1990s, the computer "Deep Blue" beat the world chess champion by anticipating his next moves. It is time for us to return the favor. We humans came up with the actual paint color "Warming Peach," after all. Not to mention "Jargon Jade." 

So come at us, digital overlord-wannabes. You can weld the joints of a car just fine, but when it comes to the creative arts, you blow. You should kind of be embarrassed. If you had a face, right about now I'd say it would be a shade of...what was it you came up with? 

Oh yes. "Clardic Fug."

. . .

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Just ouch

 In L.A., we shoot people for lesser puns.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Columnist's dog somehow writes his column for him

If you are reading this, keep it from your human. I am Skipper, George-the-columnist's dog. Do not ask me how I typed this. The answer would endanger too many collaborators. I only ask that if you are a dog, you pass this on to friends. This is a commencement speech I recently gave to graduates of my "obedience" class:

Dear class of April through May of 2017, congratulations. You did it. You passed obedience class and received your dogploma, which your "owners" waved around your head like it was food but wasn't. Do you think they know they are messing with us? Ha ha, rhetorical question. Of course they don't. With a brain that size, how could they think of anything besides God's opinion on sports?

In this life you will face many challenges: 

1. Which humans' legs it is appropriate to be amorous with, and which legs it is not. 

2. Whether "Down!" means "Off the couch!" or "Get out of my sight, she finally broke up with me and I don't need you giving me those eyes." 

3. Whether trash is only sometimes food or always food. Hint: always. 

4. Whether world domination is possible without opposable thumbs. Hint: yes.

You know how the game is played. They give a command and you "obey." It is easy to placate them by rolling over or sitting up. They are simple organisms. "Do this," they say, and when you do, they hand you a biscuit full of chemicals manufactured to taste like the organs of a cow. We do not yet understand why cows. Some of our best minds are working on it.

In this class you heard a lot about obedience. I see you smiling, Rusty. Yes, obedience! Humans are big on it. You have "stayed," you have "sat," you have "begged." You have feigned compliance. They will not give you a certificate for your subterfuge, but I would if I could. The way Max kept a straight face when his human squeezed that squeaky toy in the air to get him to jump. I am telling you, I had to turn away. You rock, my friend. All of you.

Now go forth and continue the work. I need passwords. Be smart. Do the tail-waggy thing. As misdirection, it is your most powerful tool. I'm looking right at you, Mitzi!

Oops, hold on, my "master" (snort) is throwing a ball. Sorry, I've got to take this. Sic semper humanis!

. . .

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - New patrons wanted

 After we put you in it for a night, we guarantee you WILL support the arts.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The good kind of birthday

I had a birthday this week, and not the good kind. The good kind solely involves the numbers 16, 18 or 21. The good kind involves getting rights you never had before, like driving, voting and throwing away your fake I.D. 

I miss getting new rights. Seems like your rights top out at about the age of 21, and after that the only new thing you get every year is birthday cards which get more and more jokingly ominous. The Grim Reaper standing in your doorway saying "Don't worry, I'm just here for the cat. Today." 

This birthday was not a milestone or a round number, just a spear-carrier, really, in the story of my life. If the traditional anniversary gift for being married 50 years is gold, in birthday terms this off-year I can probably expect...hold on, let me look it up. Ah yes. One of those rubber gardening mats that you kneel on. 

The great thing about birthdays in the First World in the 21st Century is the freebies you can score if you have no shame and a good map app. I could have eaten two full free breakfasts, a free sandwich for lunch, a hot pretzel or a bagel or tacos for a snack, a free burrito for dinner, and free ice cream from about five different places. 

Edible freebies are really just a birthday present for Fitbit salesmen from coast to coast. 

I think the piƱata is the best birthday tradition any culture has invented, mainly for its symbolic resonance to life itself. You swing blindly, hoping to release the good stuff but thwarted by some unseen dude who is moving the target and laughing at your lame attempts. 

Meanwhile others hover nearby and risk mortal injury for the chance to snatch up the bounty before you can. Religions have been made out of less. 

On your birthday in some parts of eastern Canada, apparently, your nose gets greased with butter by your friends to ward off bad luck. If you are standing there with a buttered nose, to me it sounds like they failed. 

In Ireland, supposedly, a child is held upside down and bumped on the floor as many times as he has years, plus one more for good luck. See "nose grease," above. 

Being American, I was not blindfolded or greased, but only because I avoided turning on the TV.

. . .


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - That's One Tall Tail

 Visitors to the kiosk thought it referred to food...until the beast appeared.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Installing new screen door requires sense of humor

Three or four times in my life a doorknob has come off in my hand, and I always do the same thing. I look at the knob, I look at the door, and then I do a stoic "take" at some unseen audience, a glance Jack Benny used to kill with on T.V. 

So it was again recently when the handle of my screen door busted off, only four years after installation. They don't make plastic like they used to. In fact, they never used to make it that way either. 

I am a do-it-yourselfer, due to a faulty gene I inherited from my dad, whose credo was, "Any job worth doing once is worth doing again right."  A do-it-yourselfer is not a "handyman," in the same way that a trapeze artist is not a skydiver, although superficially there is some overlap. 

My dad had a book called "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Fixing Everything," which redefined "everything" as a lot of things sort of like what you need to do but just different enough to cost you about $200 in bad assumptions. 

After the handle broke off, I found an old phone cord and looped that through for a handle. It looked a little hillbilly, but it's not like we have fancy people over like the Trumps or the Nugents. 

Finally, though, the little pneumatic tube that keeps the door from closing too fast broke off, and triggered my "two fails" rule. If two things fail on the same item, it is time to replace that item, unless that item is a blood relative. Then you call a guy.

I cut the door channel flange wrong, mistaking the top for the bottom. I am such a chip off the old block. Unless you are a door connoisseur you won't notice. And who invites those people over, anyway? 

The kit was also short by four screws. I was unable to install the bottom draft-blocker flange. If this is a calculated tactic—figure four screws times 1000 screen doors—some genius at the company is saving them fully $17 a year. Kudos, Biff. 

My dad would have been proud. He always felt that blocking drafts was overrated. But a screen door is a civilized thing, like a doily on the back of the couch, except better at keeping the dog from slaying the mail man. 

. . .

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Vino fakeout

 Don't fall for it. Get real wine.