Category Archives: a peek into the exciting life of splotchy

I Could Not Imagine This 25 Years Ago

Continuing the celebration of January Is Meme Month, a tag from Bubs:

He modified it a bit from how he received it, and actually made it a little easier for me to answer — list five things I did not foresee in the future 25 years ago.

So, that’s 1983. Here are five things.

  • Playing with computers for a living – When I was goofing around with graphics programs on the Apple II in junior high, it never occurred to me that I could make a living at computers. It turns out you can!
  • Star Trek communicators in the hands of everyday people — The coolest thing about the original Star Trek series (aside from the velour shirts) was Kirk whipping out his communicator on a strange planet to tell Scotty to beam him up. And now we have cellphones. Goddamn cellphones.
  • Michael Jackson a freak of nature? – In ’83, I picked up Michael Jackson’s wonderful album Thriller. Sure, on the cover his nose looked a little skinnier than it did on the cover of Off The Wall, but what’s a little plastic surgery to a famous entertainer? To each their own!
  • Jim Henson is dead. Keith Richards is alive. – I am still confused and saddened by this.
  • Twins! – I had not dated anyone yet at this point in my life, though I was hopeful someone would eventually find me non-unappealing. And sure, I thought to myself, I might meet-someone-get-married-have-children, that was definitely within the realm of possibility. But twins, that I had not thought of. Hey, that reminds me, it’s the twins’ fifth birthday today! Happy Birthday, B&E (no, their names are not Breaking and Entering, smartass)!

Likes and Dislikes

01. Rocket jet packs
02. Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and feta cheese in vinaigrette dressing
03. Trees
04. Snow
05. Puppies
06. Sitting by a fire
07. Boobs
08. Long walks
09. Miniature golf
10. Peace

01. Stomach flu
02. Bon Jovi’s hair
03. Bon Jovi
04. Golf
05. Smashed fingers
06. High temperatures combined with high humidity
07. Jogging
08. Canned green beans
09. War
10. Richie Sambora

Splotchy, The Artificially Stupid Robot

I’ve used the word “Splotchy” for a pretty long time.

I have been using the domain name since 1999, and was probably was using “Splotchy” for other websites a year before that.

What’s the significance of the word to me? None, really. I just like it. That’s pretty much it.

Seeing as I have been using this word on the web for a long time, you’d think there would be a fair chance I might come up first in a search engine looking for it.

But you’d be wrong. This comes up.

Meet Splotchy, the Artificially Stupid Robot.

You can type comments or questions to Splotchy, and he answers in his own inimitably stupid way.

Here’s a transcript of a recent conversation between myself and the dumb robot.

I, Splotchy ==> why do you come up before me in google?
splotchy the robot ==> I always come up before you in google

I, Splotchy ==> Why do you think that is?
splotchy the robot ==> I am genetically programmed to think that is

I, Splotchy ==> Do you really expect me to believe you are intelligent, and aren’t just a series of canned phrases programmed to respond to key phrases you find in a question?
splotchy the robot ==> so what if I really expect you

I, Splotchy ==> So that’s what passes for an intelligent response?
splotchy the robot ==> what is it you are getting at?

I, Splotchy ==> You’re a phony and I don’t love you any more.
splotchy the robot ==> you should

I, Splotchy ==> Should not
splotchy the robot ==> you bet

I, Splotchy ==> Bet what?
splotchy the robot ==> hugh?

I, Splotchy ==> Visit, where what little intelligence in evidence is natural, baby!
splotchy the robot ==> ga-ga-goo-goo

A Mixture of Bad And Good

Bad: Part of my job entails carrying a phone that receives pages from the web application I support. What’s worse than a person calling you with an urgent Production problem? A machine calling you with an urgent Production problem.

Good: Sometimes my job involves some intricate problem-solving, even creativity (though nothing as wondrous as a Rube Goldberg contraption).

Bad: The “machine” paged me in the wee hours of last night. The last time it paged me, I decided to just get up and come into work.

Good: It was dark as I walked to the train. Now that I don’t live in the middle of Chicago, some stars are visible in the sky (of course, nothing like the stars you’d see in a more rural area — I’m not *that* far from Chicago, after all). I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at stars since we moved out here. After the kids are put to bed my wife and I are usually pretty exhausted, and it’s not a pastime that generally occurs to us. But this morning I saw the comfortingly anthropomorphic constellation Orion in the southwest. To my southeast (I think) I saw Venus.

Bad: The dead eyes of early morning commuters. And I’m sure my eyes were deader than most.

Good: I’m taking a trip soon, so soon, so soon.

The Cool Lame Nexus

The Idea Of Progress recently tagged me with a task I thought might be fun to attempt.

I am acutely aware of my own idea of coolness and how it often intersects with what others would consider lame.

To fulfill my task, I now present to you five I’m-cool-yet-lame-to-you facts about myself.

1. I geeked out with a couple Apple II graphics programs in junior high.

In what was perhaps foreshadowing of my current career in IT, I was really into playing around with some Apple computers in the computer lab at my junior high school.

There were two different graphics programs I played with — lo-res (GR) and high-res (HGR).

In HGR, I mostly did weird things where I would have shifting lines I created by plotting lines using X-Y coordinates, set by counter variables I would decrement and increment. Ah ha! I can see already that you have no idea what the hell I am talking about. In plain English, the stuff I created in HGR kind of looked like the Qix.

In GR, I was even more geeky. The GR screen consisted of a screen of 40 by 40 blocks. In GR you could issue commands to make horizontal lines, vertical lines and individual dots. I actually had graph paper where I would draw out pictures, which I would then painstakingly render in a GR program.

My pièce de résistance was a nighttime scene with a red sports car, with an animated shooting star falling from the sky. Wicked! Unfortunately, I have no idea where my original graph paper or programs are. Your loss, I guess.

2. I made Billy Bob swear.

Here’s another computer anecdote showing how cool/lame I am, also from around the time I was in junior high. I was a big fan of arcade games in my youth. Chuck E. Cheese’s was about the only place within walking distance of my house that had any arcade games (and those weren’t even all that good), so every once in a while I’d go there.

At the time there was a computer terminal there on which you could play some various games. I think the games were free (they were educational, and not that popular with Chuck E. Cheese patrons). One of the activities on the computer was a somewhat primitive voice synthesis program. You typed in some words, and “Billy Bob” the bear would say the words in his eerily synthetic voice. Obviously, the first thing I tried to do was make him swear.

Oh, those clever computer programmers! Whenever you typed in “shit” or “fuck” the voice synthesizer would instead say “Billy Bob Will Not Say That”.

I immediately rose to the challenge, typing “shiht” and “phuck”, which Billy Bob promptly pronounced. I think that’s when I started to insanely cackle.

Then I typed “fuck phuck” which made the program say “Billy Bob Will Not Say That Fuck”.

Man, I still smile thinking about that. Good times.

3. I was a kickass Dungeon Master for a day.

I have already documented my limited experience with Dungeons and Dragons here. However, I have not mentioned that I DM’ed a game once. A DM (Dungeon Master) is the guy who is responsible for guiding player’s characters through an adventure. He or she (aw, who the hell am I kidding, it’s just “he”) plays all the Non-Player characters (NPC), he rolls dice for monsters fighting the characters, he is the characters’ eyes and ears in the world they are experiencing. My short time as a DM was at the University of Illinois in Urbana. With me being lame and living in a twelve floor male-only dorm of concentrated lameness, I am assuming that the probability of me playing Dungeons and Dragons in some capacity there was very high.

Anywho, it was just one game, with me as the DM and two other people playing characters. It actually was just the start of an adventure we never finished. For preparation, I had scribbled to myself some very basic details about the world I was having these people move their characters through. I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants. But, here’s the coolness. I realized I was good. I reacted very quickly to their characters’ actions. I was rapidly painting a world as their characters walked into it, and it was a nice, vivid world fraught with danger and excitement. I was confident, and knew I could be a decent DM if I wanted to be.

But, that’s as far as I took it. Which I’m fine with.

4. A band I was in got a record released in Italy.

Wow, that sounds cool, don’t it? It does until I tell you the band was one of the most stinkingly pretentious, dumb-dumb lyric, cheesy bands that ever reared its head in Southern Illinois.

I guess I carry the coolness/lameness duality within myself for this experience. It was great to be on a record in another country, but I just wish it wasn’t the lame album that it was.

If you play your cards right, I might upload one of the songs I was on.

5. I still remember the plotlines of my Amazing Spider-Man comics.

I stopped collecting comics over twenty years ago. My favorite title was The Amazing Spider-Man. I have a pretty damned good memory for things I like.

I am proud that I still remember the one-off villain Mindworm made his first appearance in issue #138. Oh, who can forget the sadness that is issue #121? Poor, poor Gwen Stacy.

If you check out the Amazing Spider-Man Wikipedia article and scour through the revisions, you may note that I corrected the first appearance of The Lizard.

Damn, I am cool/lame!

I tag all the lame people! Cool people, relax!

It’s All Barbeque, Idn’t It

I have been going to a restaurant that’s walking distance from my place of employment for a few months. It’s notable in that the restaurant’s name has three words, all of which have accent marks.

They have a BBQ pork sandwich w/ fries special on Tuesdays that I like to order. The restaurant also has Mexican food, Greek food, cheeseburgers, etc. It’s a hodgepodge of cuisines.

So as I walk up to the restaurant today, I see a chalkboard sign on the sidewalk in front of the place. It says BBQ pork, but above it, written in large letters is the word “KOREAN”.


I walk in. There are Korean gentlemen behind the counter and wandering about. I sit down and look at the menu. BBQ pork is still a special.

I ask the waiter, what kind of pork is the special? He says it’s Korean BBQ pork. Hot and spicy, but not too spicy.

What the hell. I order the special, and soon am eating a spicy pile of BBQ pork and white rice.

One of the gentlemen told me the restaurant changed hands on October 1st.

Does this kind of thing happen that often? And how odd is the fact that despite the change in the menu, I could still get BBQ pork as a special?

The new owner made sure my coworker and I knew about the upcoming buffet and karaoke this Friday. If they have some Sabbath on the jukebox, I might just go.

How Computer Programming Pollutes The Mind

This post will probably not make sense to you. Still, I’ll soldier on.

As I had a quick lunch over at the UIC cafeteria today while picking up a schoolbook for MizSplotchy, I noticed a Studs Terkel autograph on a poster where he had also scrawled “Peace = Sanity”.

The first thought that popped into my head was, to properly indicate equality and not assignment, he should have used “==” instead of “=”.