Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Professor Returns



I haven't shared much about The Professor (age: 10½ months) since the beginning of the semester, so I thought now would be the perfect time to recap the last few months. I'll do my best to be concise, though, so you can focus on more important things. Like the photos.

The Professor basically has three moods. In order of descending frequency:
  1. Happy — characterized by laughing, smiling, clapping, waving, cooing, babbling, drumming, and high-fiving1
  2. Exploratory — he takes things in visually, tactilely, and of course, orally
  3. Fussy — brought on solely by hunger, illness, or tiredness2
He seemingly has a fourth mood, wherein he appears to be over-serious. If he stays that way for any length of time, however, invariably he is sucking on a tiny pine cone.3



Although he can't walk on his own yet, he has mastered the art of the double dribble. No, not like a basketball player. Like a soccer-playing baby.4



The Professor has also been diagnosed with Schadenfreude Katzenartig, a condition so rare I had to name it myself. He's expected to overcome it eventually, but basically it means this: Although otherwise empathetic to others' misfortune, he laughs his head off when our cat Schrödinger has a hairball.



And there, once you've take a look at the full set of The Professor's pictures (with the 37 newest photos at the bottom), you'll be all ready for the final exam.

I'm kidding, of course; there's no way you'll be ready, not after missing so many classes. You're going to fail miserably. But, if you still want to give it the ol' college try, The Professor put together this study guide just for you.


1 His three favorite things, in order of descending hilarity: 1) swift shifts in vantage point (e.g. swooping, spinning, baby lifts); 2) tickle tickle tickle time!; 3) whatever the cat is doing.
2 Extremely Put Out is technically an extension of Fussy. It is caused by minor injury, extreme over-tiredness, and extreme Daddy taking too long to give him more Cheerios.
3 This has now happened twice, but two out of two is still "invariably." The dog tracks these things into the house on occasion, and the little Professor — the proud owner of two teeth, I might add — keeps at it, working it around in his mouth, hoping the thing will dissolve like everything else he eats so he can swallow it. Last week, when this first occurred, it took my wife a half hour to figure out what was "wrong."
4 No, not like a footballer who drops to the turf whining about his ankle every time someone gets within a yard of him. I'm talking about two succinct dribbles at the same time: one from his mouth, one with his feet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Robot Haiku Contest Winners

First of all, thank you to everyone who entered this year's contest! Because of you — and especially Tara and Tyrean, who also spread the word on their blogs — my job as judge was that much harder. Yet, I went into the judging like a well-oiled machine. Too well oiled, in fact. My mind kept slipping, and at the end I was drained.

Anyway, onto the awards. As usual, the mechanisms of my judging were guided by extreme prejudice and no logic whatsoever. And if you haven't already done so, make sure to read all of the entries.

Dishonorable Mention

Once again, my father (BCFN) insulted both haiku and the prize in 17 syllables. I won't be reprinting his schlock here.

Plain Old Mention

I appreciated Laurie Peel's entry: A haiku praising my haiku about how to write haiku. But it had nothing to do with robots, so she's out.

Honorababble Mentions

These two would have been in the running, if not for one pesky extra syllababble. It's too bad; I enjoyed them both. First, from Tyrean Martinson, life comes to the lifeless:
lights switch on displays
after the science fair closes
a mind awakens
And Budd harkens the dawning of a new age:
Rise my Bretheren
let us strike down our oppressors
Enter the steel age
Honorable Mentions

Thanks to Owen, we learned the fate of someone long since forgotten:
Out of a soundless
wasteland sticks the bold head of
Mister Roboto
Zongrik showed us we're not so far off from the Jetsons after all:
digital housemaid
room disinfection robot
it's the modern age
And Tara Tyler tells us what we pretty much already know:
laziness is doom
robots do all and faster
humans obsolete

First Place — Traditional

I find this category the toughest to choose every year. This one was very close, but in the end, I called in the super-secret tie-breaking judge (my wife), who coaxed me into choosing a haiku by someone I had to coax into participating. From Lynda R Young:
A rusted robot
Its mechanics whirs and purs
Needs oil and falls down
First Place — Humorous / Creative

Humor was a little harder to come by this year than in past contests — apparently ninjas and pirates are funnier subjects than robots — but it didn't stop Mooderino. He takes home the prize with this little number:
As R2D2
Exclaimed to C3PO
"Brr wee ping woo woo!"
First Place — Robopocalypse

I knew I'd be awarding a third prize, but I only decided on the category after I chose the third winner. Budd claims this one with some sage advice on how we can survive the uprising:
How can we survive?
the machines have risen up.
Divide by zero
And that'll do it. Lynda, Moody, and Budd, send me an email and let me know your gift card preference (Amazon, iTunes, etc).

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks again to everyone who entered!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A to Z: The Final Word

Before I get to the good stuff, let me tell you about the even better stuff. Today's the last day to enter my Robot Haiku Contest. Deadline's at 5pm, Eastern Time.

Letters. That was the final word of my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.1

Of course, if that was all I had for you today, this would be a short post. Yet, as many of you know, I'm no good at writing short posts.

I expected this year's A to Z to be tougher than last year's. With a 9-month-old at home and things getting mighty busy at work, I knew I'd have much less time to participate. So, I did what any sane person would do: I chose a theme that took even more time.2

And I fell behind quickly. Starting on D-Day, every single post was written the night before. And I only really had the chance to visit the bloggers who commented on my posts. Still, I got to discover some fun blogs, and loved the small cadre of loyal visitors who kept coming back to The Wheel for more.

I learned a few things during the Challenge, too:
  • Some people appreciate being introduced to new things, but in general, people much prefer commenting on things they already know.
  • I will always be a perfectionist. And a procrastinator. These things do not go well together.
  • Sleep is for the weak.3

Creatively, what I enjoyed most about this year's Challenge was creating the letter graphics from my own photos. My favorites, in no particular order, are the ones ED LUVZ. Here are the whole bunch, in case you want to see 'em all in one place:


(click to embiggen)

A close second was coming up with the title for each letter. Here's a recap of all 26, for easy access:
  1. Like the Fonz Always Said (with anagrammed hosts' names)
  2. That Buzz in Your Ear
  3. A Body Off the Coast (Seven C's Edition)
  4. The End of the World
  5. The Gad Preceder
  6. Stop With the Camera
  7. The Most Common Willikers
  8. Jesus, Initially
  9. The Window to the Soul (I Spy With My Little I Edition)
  10. A Way of Walking
  11. It's Alright, I Guess
  12. The Train in Chicago (Double Hockey Stick Edition)
  13. A Kansas Auntie (Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Edition)
  14. The Center of Attention
  15. A Surprised Utterance
  16. A Small Green Orb (P's in a Pod Edition)
  17. A British Line
  18. The Call of the Pirate
  19. The Start of Something (Super-Sized Saturday Edition)
  20. Something You Put Balls On (T for 2 Edition)
  21. A Ram's Better Half
  22. Southbound Geese
  23. The P.O.T.U.S. (#43)
  24. A Former Flame
  25. The Age-Old Question
  26. The End of All That Jazz

But the best thing to come out of this Challenge? I began writing nearly every day. And I plan to keep up the pace, too. Just not here.

After over two years' hiatus from my novel, I'm finally back at it. Five chapters to go in the first draft. 87.5% done. I'll get this thing finished yet.

Right after I read some robot haiku. (Hint hint.)


1 Unless you're of the mind that the footnotes came last, since they appear lower on the page. Then the final word was V. Which I'll pretend meant Victory.
2 I didn't realize that when I chose it, of course. I'm a master at self-delusion. You might not think I'm a master, but that's because I'm only good at deluding myself, not you.
3 I'm weak. Sleep is gooood.