Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just Pick It Up!

In case you're wondering the answer is yes, we still have the dog. He's almost 15 in dog years, but smells like he's 893 in people years and even though he doesn't have that much hair to begin with, the shedding is out of control. In fact, I think he's actually growing hair just so that it can immediately fall out and piss me off. Also, except for an unfortunate accident a couple days ago, he's been pretty good about making it outside to crap. And while I'm happy about this, I'd be even happier if it weren't for the fact that I'm the only one that is capable of seeing piles of dog shit in the backyard and has the skills necessary to operate a pooper scooper.

On Monday, before I cut the grass, I picked up the dog shit. Completing this chore is an absolute necessity because if the lawn mower goes over a piece of crap that is less than two days old and isn't dried into an almost petrified-state, it clings to the mower blades and I end up walking behind the mower with shit fumes wafting around me. I do not enjoy this experience, especially since it ends up making everything, even a post-mow beer, seem unappetizing.

When Charlie went outside yesterday afternoon to play baseball with some friends in the backyard, I mentioned to him that he might want to take a quick look around for poop and if he sees some, pick it up. This, of course, resulted in no reaction from him. Nothing. No "Uh huh" or "That's gross I'm not going to do it" or "Oh, did you say something?" Not even a questioning glare that wordlessly said "Are you crazy, woman?" Zilch reaction. Apparently, since I was standing on the deck when I said this to him, he thought I must have been talking to a chair, or maybe the grill. So I said again, a little bit louder this time, that unless he wants his friends to fall in a fairly fresh pile of dog crap, he should probably walk around, find the poop, wrap his fingers around the handle of the scooper and PICK THE CRAP UP!

He not only heard me this time, but his brain even managed to process the directions. Or more accurately, he managed to partially process the directions, because instead of walking around he just stood in one place, glanced at the grass and said "Nope, I don't see any." Since I refused to let him off the hook and treat him like the incompetent idiot that he was clearly trying to be, I stood on the deck and waved my arms around like an air traffic controller, guiding him to the two piles of shit that were clearly visible and resisting the urge to bludgeon him with the pooper scooper.

Doug recently sent me an article about some researchers at Berkeley that managed to teach a robot how to fold a towel. (You can view the video and read the article here) To me, the most impressive part of this news isn't the fact that robots can be taught how to do stuff like fold towels, it's that they are able to recognize that what they are holding is, in fact, a towel and that the item can be folded. And not only does it know that it can fold the towel, but it folds at a speed of 25 minutes per towel which, as Doug pointed out, is just slightly faster than an 11-year-old boy.

Now, if they could just teach the robot how to identify that a pile of dog crap is, in fact, a pile of dog crap that can be picked up, I'll really be impressed and may even want to buy a robot of my own someday. Honestly, though, I'd probably kind of miss receiving all those glares. Maybe they could teach the robot how to do that, too.

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