July 28, 2008

Literary Product Reviews - LitterMaid

"I've got an idea for a new invention!" said the short gentleman. He had the pale skin of someone who didn't leave the house much. And not for something even marginally cool as addiction to PlayStation.

"Everyone hates cleaning the litter box," the man said, not waiting for the sarcastic response I had just thought of. As a service, I try to think up new ones for each customer. Personal touch and all.

"This is the LitterMaid!" He even spoke the name in bold lettering. "Every few hours, this motorized arm will come out and scoop the... stuff.. in the litter box into this receptacle on the end, leaving the box clean! Then all the owners need to do is empty the receptacle bin once a week or so."

For a man who builds cat toilets, he was unusually uneasy about saying the excrement-related words. But I had to admit, it was a good idea. Margie had one of those white over-haired cats that James Bond villains have a penchant for. "Fluffles." Thing hated me and it was mutual. He gets to sit around all day, eat and sleep, and I had to clean out his shitbox. Pleasantly imagining less time inhaling cat ass, this idea was striking a chord with me.

We looked over the papers together. It would retail around $100, be available at all the pet stores and WalMarts, good. But it was too simple. We'd never make money on it if it was a one-time sell. The shut-in guy said we could sell disposable replacement plastic receptacles, but most people would probably just empty them and put them back to save money. I needed to add a design flaw, so the thing would break. Not right away, or it would be perceived as cheap. But having it fail slowly, after months of getting used to the convenience of it...

I looked over the schematics and had a thought. "Look, what if we put the motorized arm in the BACK of the litter box instead?" Mr. Pale just looked at me and blinked. "Sir, cats use the back of the litter box about 80% of the time. If the motorized arm started there, it would cause a jam almost immediately. Sure, my design allows for some reversing when it comes in contact with an immovable... mass... but Litter boxes are often in garages or out-of-the-way areas where people won't hear the process, and it'll be left to grind away for hours, maybe even days! Over time, maybe 12 months or so, the motor could burn itself out due to stress."

Smiles didn't often cross my face. It was a novel feeling.

Whitey didn't understand, and kept going. "I had a configuration like that in my early designs, but the motor burnout caused me to change it. That and the constant NOISE of that thing grinding to a halt every hour or so. Nearly drove me mad. That's why I changed the design to what you see here."

I shoved his plans back across the table. "Move the motor to the back. And add some useless bit of electronics on it to add some cost. Like some minuscule fan on the arm. Call it.. dunno, an 'Ionic Air Cleaner' or something. Something to make a Deluxe model so we can jack the price up $20. Then we'll have a deal, Mr. ..." I extended my hand, and realized that I still didn't know the guy's name.

"Casper," he said with the tiredness of a tour guide at the end of a long week. "Casper Fluffles."

July 07, 2008

Brief Updates

  1. Wall-e
  2. 5 Word Review: Oh Hell Yeah It Rocks. Slighty Longer Review: Never before has so much social commentary been put so DIGESTIBLY into a film, and most of that message is never spoken with dialogue. PIXAR has shined their "2-layer film" Formula (The kids get it on one level, the adults get the deeper message) to a mirror finish on this one. Not just an immensely enjoyable film, but a cinematic accomplishment with the way in which it is told. Only drawback: WTF with the live-action scenes? Didn't really seem to have a reason. And to quote Maddy: "Only Pixar could make us love a cockroach."

  3. Doctor Who
  4. We speed-watched the entire 4th season with the assistance of a friend, and there were some really good episodes this season. Best of the bunch were the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead two-parter and my personal favorite breakout, Midnight, which was like no other episode I've seen in the new series. There was minimal special FX, pretty much one set, and played out like a classic Twilight Zone episode, relying more on character and tension than technological whiz-bang, and it was INCREDIBLY good. And to boot, it was written by Russell T. Davies, who usually turns in the cheesy, overly-convenient coincidence-ridden episodes lately, so it was a nice surprise that he could do MIDNIGHT, which could almost be considered a "Period Piece". We saw the season finale episode last night, and it was an incredible 2-part finale. They really did their homework in the episodes leading up to this, and it was quite well executed.

  5. DragonCon
  6. With some help, Melissa and I are slowly fleshing out some ideas for costumes that could incorporate the wheelchair. Thanks to some feedback from Shawn, we might have nailed one down! No spoilers yet, we still have planning to do.

  7. Transportation
  8. We need to get rid of both of our cars and buy a wheelchair-accessible van for Melissa (which run about $18-25,000! ouch.) I'll be posting the cars on Craigslist and probably the AJC. If anyone is looking for dependable transport, comment for more info on them: - 1998 Ford Taurus SE - Hunter Green, 190k, New A/C, Alloy Wheels - $2000 - 2001 Mercury Sable - Tan, Premium Wheels, 134k, small swipe on rear - $3500


July 01, 2008

Walk to Defeat ALS - Join Fiver's Team!

We're back from a brief hiatus! And we've been scheming in our absence to get people involved with ALS Advocacy in our own particular... Um...

"Idiom, sir?"

Yes, Idiom! Thank you. So here is the deal:

Fiver and I have started a team for the annual Walk to Defeat ALS, sponsored by the ALS Association of Georgia. This is the big fundraiser for ALS, since we don't have a telethon, and Mel wants to put our own Geeky spin on the event:

It's common to have people dress up for the walk, but I don't think they've been inundated with full-on geek cosplayers yet! Imagine if we had whole casts of movies and shows marching ?

The walk is Saturday, November 8th in Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta. Registration opens at 8:30 AM, and the Walk starts at 10 AM. The walk isn't long, only 5k, which most can complete in an hour. Heck, the DragonCon Parade is probably more of an effort than this!

Melissa and I would really appreciate people turning out for this event. The ALS Association has been a lifesaver in these past months. They provide counseling and equipment loaning for families with ALS. They have provided Mel with a roller-walker, a stair-chair and wheelchair, without which she would have been shut in and practically stranded upstairs in the house. The people are so very nice and helpful, and they seriously need your help. Just a few people are staffed for the whole state of Georgia, and they have to drive this equipment from their Atlanta headquarters to ALS patients from Savannah to the border of Alabama-stan, and you can imagine what that costs in gas these days.

So please consider joining us in the walk, or donating to sponsor Melissa. If you know anything about us, you can bet there will be lots of fun hanging out afterwards, so it won't be just a 1-hour deal.

Join Fiver's Team and Walk with us! (Select "Fiver's Team" from the drop-down menu on the page and register)

Make a donation to Sponsor Melissa in her walk. (And remember: Talk to the HR Department at your workplaces! They often will match your donations!)

Thanks to everybody that has helped so far, and we'll have more details on the walk later.