Stupid superpowers

I’ve long maintained that my one superpower was my ability to fall asleep & stay asleep so easily. I’ve never suffered from insomnia, I don’t brood or have anxious energy at night, and any time I’m feeling tired I can sleep: on a bus, on a plane, on the couch, or in my bed.

I realize that this is a huge advantage for me. It’s a gift and a privilege and more than a humblebrag, it’s totally legitimately braggy.

But it’s still not flight or invisibility or superhuman strength. It is, in fact, a pretty pedestrian superpower like something out of Mystery Men.

The great weakness of this superpower is that I rarely, if ever, remember my dreams. I don’t even recall the experience of dreaming, actually. I just seem to exist either sleeping or waking, never in between.

On the rare occasion that I do experience dreams they are almost always nightmares and last night was no exception.

I had the sense of being asked to report to a faceless manager’s office. Presumably this is my current employer or maybe my former employer (from whom I was laid off earlier this year). I take a seat and they begin talking, at which point I realize the familiar pattern of uncomfortable conversation. I’m being reprimanded for something and, suddenly, my conscious mind intercedes. A huge, booming voice like a god or a Morgan Freeman voiceover commands that this isn’t actually happening at all and everything should stop.

And so it did. All of it.

The dream ended and I don’t recall thinking anything else until the moment I woke up this morning.This development seems like an infinitely better superpower: willful banishment of unwelcome dreams. I bet tons of people would like to be able to simply opt out of their brain ruining an otherwise good night’s sleep.

Now I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to replicate this event. For one I don’t dream enough for it to show its potential. For another, even when I do dream, I usually only get colors and shapes, like an impressionist painting and not something as bright or as clear like an architectural schematic or like last night’s cinematic experience.

My anxiety about work is still there, hence the dream. The superpower of sleep still protects me for 8 hours a night from the intrusion of daily drudgery. And now I have a way, it seems, to ward off intrusions from the day realm into the night realm.

I just thought I’d share. Sleep tight.

How Muppeteers “Muppet”

One of my daily routines is watching videos on Uncrate while I eat lunch at my desk. (Exciting life, I know)

Yesterday I stumbled on a great video from Wired: Sesame Street Puppeteers Explain How They Control Their Puppets

It’s a pretty fun little video – about 7 1/2 minutes worth – that has some great behind-the-scenes info PLUS a look at the performers themselves embodying their characters (voices, mannerisms) without actually having their persons inside of them.

Better to watch than to have me explain, but it’s basically people pantomiming – which goes to why the characters are so memorable – the performers are great without the help of felt & wires!

Anyhow, just a little something for your Wednesday pleasure.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bot

With apologies to Stanley Kubrick for the post title, I’ve been thinking about writing a Twitter bot for about a year now.

Most of my infatuation with the topic started when news reports about Russians using social media bots to try to influence voters in the 2016 election cycle came to light.

My own purposes are slightly less nefarious: proper spelling

Now correcting someone’s spelling on Twitter can be the act of a troll or, at least, pretty pedantic. No one is going to add you to their LinkedIn if you’re out there doling out “actually”s.

But if a Twitter Bot does it that’s (arguably) something different.

A Twitter Bot can be humorous in its delivery.
A Twitter Bot can make fun of folks in a winking, knowing way without being an asshole.
A Twitter Bot can bridge the gap between people better especially when folks know it’s a Twitter Bot.

With these precepts in mind, I set out to build my own “Whoa Bot”, a pun-ny name that still makes me smile.

After searching for a suitable handle and going through the necessary steps that Twitter assigns both for accounts and for apps, I just had to write some Bot code.

The quickest and easiest platform to try was Glitch. I’m a long-time follower of Anil Dash and so I thought I’d give the service a try. Thanks to their very simple twitterbot template, I was off & running.

I wish I had a better story to tell you about laboring on code tweaks, but all I really did was adapt some code that Mark Rabey had written for a Node.js twitter bot to conform to some of the existing code & setup that Glitch provided, et voila!

For those that use Glitch here’s a link to the code.

If you’re the type of person that wants to see folks who spell the word “WHOA” as “WOAH” be corrected for their spelling error, give Whoa Bot a follow. And if you’re not, hopefully you don’t find my particular brand of silly sententiousness too sour. 😉

I feel like the addition of Keanu Reeves’ face in the avatar & header adds to the air that it’s all in good fun and I seem to get a few knowing replies, retweets, and faves every day.

If I offended anyone too severely, I’d stop.

The only rule I’ve run afoul of in the weeks since I turned on the Whoa Bot is to be rate-limited by Twitter, but that was an easy problem to fix in the code.

In the end it was fun for me to research and write, it’s fun to see the bot out in the wild saying “WHOA!”, and most of the folks who get quote-tweeted find it fun. That’s a win-win-win, so I hope you like it too!