Get The Dru, It’s Domino’s!

When I saw this video about Domino’s Pizza making a delivery robot,

I had to wonder…did Steve’s friend Greg go to Australia? That has to be why they invented the thing.

Story time. A long, long time ago, when Steve and I still lived in that building that had the big fire that night in January, Greg came over for some drinks and good times. He started mixing stuff with Jack Daniel’s, and without meaning to, he ended up finishing a mickey of the stuff in under an hour. Of course, he was very drunk, very very drunk.

They decided to order some pizza from Domino’s, and Greg was getting goofier and goofier. He suddenly decided that it would be funny if he asked the delivery guy to rub his nipples. I have no idea why he wanted to do this, but this was the running joke.

The pizza guy showed up, and while we were paying, Greg happily announced over and over that he drank a Mickey of Jack in under an hour! How cool is that? As we were finishing paying, Steve asked Greg if he had anything to ask the guy…and for some reason Greg responded with “Do you know where I could get some good head?” Steve laughed and said that wasn’t it, and the delivery guy said “Uh, no…” and left. Steve reminded Greg that he never asked about the nipples, at which point Greg got up, and barreled down the back stairs yelling “Hey Domino’s guy! Domino’s guy!” A minute or so later, he came back all sad that he missed him.

A few weeks later, we ordered Domino’s again, and the same driver showed up. We noticed that he’s really nervous. He finally says “That guy…that other guy…he’s not here is he?” Once we told him Greg wasn’t here, he let out the biggest sigh of relief and became normal again.

So that must be it. Greg went to Australia and scared so many Domino’s guys that they built delivery robots. No, not really, but I needed a good excuse to tell that story.

But on the serious side, again, how are these autonomous robots going to handle complicated stuff like apartment buildings, people who don’t understand the language or can’t see its screens, all those things that really need human problem-solving skills?

For now I think the Delivery Robotic Unit (DRU) is only being used when the task is simple, but I hope they think about those circumstances if DRU becomes popular.


I think this post needs a soundtrack.

I heard rumours about this months ago, but they were only rumours. Now it is happening. Uber is testing using driverless cars.

There was a small part of me that thought “Well, at least a driverless car won’t get allergic to my guide dog.” But when I thought a little more, that thought went away and was replaced with “blind folks, and anyone with special needs of any sort, are screwed!” I think of how many times I need to ask directions, get a little help to the door, or even have the driver tell me where his vehicle is. A driverless car would just come, wait, and if I don’t connect, leave.

And how on earth would they cope in this construction? Hell, the humans don’t do very well, circling around a one-way street over and over again, yelling into my phone that “We’re at King and Erb, can you see me? I’m in black car!” Would a driverless car just give up and drop me off somewhere and tell me to figure it out?

If they go this route, will we have to choose that we want a human and get charged for it? Could I only use it if my city had Uber Assist?

Companies forget that customer service can’t be done by machines all the time and it can’t be the only option. Sure lots of people go to the self-scanner things at the grocery store, but lots of people go to the humans. Just because I like to use an app to request an uber doesn’t mean I don’t want any contact with another human. Also, don’t charge me for the human interaction. I need it, I’m not doing it because it’s a luxury.

I just wish I knew what their plans were. I like Uber as an option, but I’m suspicious of Uber as a company.

Ann Adams Is Gone

It’s been such a good long weekend for me, it’s sad that it’s been less so for others.

Last March, I talked about Ann Adams, and hoped she would recover from her massive stroke. Although she seemed to get a little better, she was never able to write on her Facebook or blogs again.

After a long struggle and a couple bouts of pneumonia, the word is she has passed away on Saturday. There isn’t an obituary that I can readily find, but it is very much on her Facebook page. When there’s something available, I will add it.

Like I said on her page, who knew that someone whose blog I stumbled across through another blog would become so important to me? There was just something about her that made everyone who met her care about her.

I started reading her one blog about 10 or so years ago. It didn’t take long to get attached to her story and be amazed by her. Here was this 69-year-old woman taking care of 3 near teenagers and being very active in whatever cause struck her. Whatever she decided to involve herself in, she was all in. She had a very open mind. They always say as we get older, our opinions get harder and harder to change. That wasn’t the case with her.

I still laugh about an exchange we had one day. I emailed her and asked her how far Merced was from San Francisco because I would be in the bay area to get my guide dog and I was trying to figure out if I could see her. Yes, I admit right here that I’m as much of a geography idiot as we joke about when folks from the states think they’re going to get from Vancouver to Halifax in one day. At least we were in the same state, but that state is a beast! After learning that there was over 300 miles between us, Ann still said she might come visit her son in San Francisco and drop by the school. It didn’t work out, but we tried.

The coolest part of that exchange though was at the beginning. I said I was going to guide dog school, and without freaking out or missing a beat, she said “I must have missed something. Guide dog?” Once I told her Steve and I are both blind, she was totally cool with it. She would even ask me questions from time to time, real questions, not the kind where you figure out the person already has an idea and just wants you to validate their theory.

We exchanged a lot of emails over the years, and she left lots of awesome comments here, it’s too bad they were all lost when Echo failed us miserably. Sometimes she sent me blog post ideas, sometimes she would just talk. We never talked on the phone, but we sent a lot of emails. She would talk about anything from baseball to politics to addiction issues to books to raising kids.

I know she touched a lot of people, her Facebook page is full of condolences. When I decide to get involved in something, I can only hope I can be half as passionate and committed as Ann was to everything she did.

Run For The Right Toppings While You Run From Mom

For the second time in a week, we have a Taco Bell burrito related incident. Unlike last time, the burrito wasn’t the weapon, though it can be argued that anything from Taco Bell should be considered a dangerous instrument. In this case, the burrito and its incorrect toppings were the spark that started a fight or perhaps more appropriately a one-sided asskicking between mother and son.

A West Virginia woman is locked up on a child abuse charge after allegedly socking her teenage son in the face because he ordered
the wrong toppings on her Taco Bell burrito, police report.
Loretta Lynn Armstrong, 48, is being held in lieu of $31,000 bail following her arrest Friday night at her home in the town of Milton (pop. 2423).
According to a criminal complaint, a patrolman dispatched to the residence spotted the 6’, 240-pound Armstrong repeatedly punching the 15-year-old boy. Armstrong and the child told officers that the confrontation was due to Armstrong’s displeasure about the burrito her son brought home.

In addition to felony child abuse, Big Mamma Armstrong was also charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction, the latter most likely stemming from her struggle with and threats against the officers attempting to place her in handcuffs.

I’ll Send A GPS To The World. So Will I. Me Too

One moron robbing a store while wearing his court-ordered GPS tracking monitor is bad, but not overly surprising. I mean there’s one in every crowd, right? Two morons robbing a store while wearing their court-ordered GPS monitors is certainly worse, but maybe moron one has a buddy just as dim as he is, moron two considers moron one to be the smart one with all the good ideas, that’s why they’re friends and it explains everything. But three morons robbing a store while wearing their court-ordered GPS monitors? That’s just ridiculous. It might also be some kind of record, though I haven’t done the research to confirm that.

It took Boston police very little time to track down three men who robbed a city convenience store this week: All they had to do was check the records of the court-ordered GPS tracking devices they were ordered to wear for previous charges.
The trio, which the Boston Herald dubbed the “three stooges of crime” on Friday, robbed a convenience store in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood on Wednesday evening. They were arrested about an hour later after their tracking devices placed them at the store at the time of the robbery and later at a nearby apartment.

Jose Morales, Andronique Dossantos and Kallahn Winbush all pleaded not guilty during a court appearance, which makes it rather difficult to determine which one of them is moron one. We may be able to narrow it down to either Morales or Dossantos, however, since both of them were already free on bond at the time. Their bail (yes, they were given bail) was set at $200,000, while Winbush’s was set at $50,000. If the trio manages to post those amounts, they have been ordered to stay away from each other and in their homes until further notice. To ensure that they comply with these instructions, they will be fitted with court-ordered GPS monitors upon their releases. This should end well.

He’s Going To Be A Real Hit In Prison With A Name Like That

Recently convicted of gross sexual imposition and tampering with records after a trial in which it was alleged that he groped various female patients during orthopedic exams is Dr. Jake Heiney. And yes, those were among the things he groped.

During Heiney’s trial, a 42-year-old woman testified that the doctor pushed and squeezed her breasts during an exam for shoulder pain. No one else was in the exam room at the time, she said.
A 33-year-old patient said she also was alone with Heiney when he asked her to bend over and touch her toes, and he abruptly pulled her pants and underwear to her knees and felt her behind, side, and upper thigh. His hand also brushed her private area, she said.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that after Sylvania police and the Ohio State Medical Board began their investigations, Heiney altered one of the women’s records.

He faces up to three years in prison in that case, and his troubles don’t end there. He’s still facing four counts of criminal sexual conduct based on complaints made at another of his offices.

Helping The Folks from Fort MacMurray

Whenever I think about Fort MacMurray, and the fire that raged through there and burned down lots of homes and buildings, I feel this huge emptiness in my chest and this feeling of overwhelming helplessness. How do you help a community that needs so much? Well, thankfully the good people at Maclean’s have gathered up every way you could possibly imagine. Seriously, everything from sending text messages that trigger donations to come off your next phone bill to helping reunite pets with owners to volunteering is in there.

Since we like to post ways to send donations by sending text messages to certain numbers, according to the article, “you can donate $5 by texting REDCROSS to 30333 or donate $10 by texting FIRES to 45678.” I’ve done the fires one and it works really well.

It’s great to have such a comprehensive list of ways to help, since there are jerks out there who exploit every tragedy and pretend to be charities to steal money from unsuspecting folks. At least this way, you know the money will be going to the right place.

I feel for everyone in Fort MacMurray and area. Sure, it’s wonderful that hardly anyone died, but it’s still pretty crushing to lose everything you own.

Come To Your Census

Another mark of passing time has come. It’s census time! Well…it was 5 days ago. I guess it wouldn’t be a VC post if it wasn’t at least a little bit late. But I figured I’d write about this because a. it might be useful to anyone who hasn’t done their census yet and is worried about accessibility, and b. in five years when it’s census time again, this will be here to look back on.

I’m quite impressed. The census website and form were super accessible, and they had even thought of blind folks who don’t have ready access to a set of eyeballs. That scenario is often neglected. Steve and I filld out our census, we even got the long form one, and did it ourselves, with a smidge of help from the Census help line.

Here’s how it works. Everyone is supposed to get a paper form in the mail. I don’t know where ours ended up but we never got it. On that paper form is a pin number. If you can see it, you just go to the census website, enter your pin, and up comes either the long or short form census, whatever you have been randomly selected to fill out. But if you’re blind and can’t read the pin, you just call the census help line, give them your address and postal code, and they’ll give you your pin. Pretty friggin slick.

I’m happy to know that you don’t have to do the long form census in one go. It’s a small beast. We did it in one go simply because the weekend was busy and we wanted to get it over with and not run the risk of screwing up logging in to do it later, but that is an option for you. There’s a “stop and finish later” button. If you hit that, you will be asked to make a login and password. So no, if you start it, you’re not obligated to sit there and keep going until the thing is done. I can imagine it being quite long if you have more than a two-person household.

I find it interesting that the census help line operators consistently ask if I’m sure I can complete it myself. I’m not sure if they’re just giving me every opportunity to get all the help I need, or they legitimately haven’t been informed that the site is pretty accessible, but I have talked to 3 people who were asked that question. So if the operator asks you that question, don’t let that be an indication of trouble ahead. The site is very very good. There are a couple of quirky things where fields appear after you’ve answered a question in a particular way, and sometimes NVDA would miss the additional field, but they make damn sure you fill in any fields you miss. The only field that went really weird on me was the monthly rent field. Somehow I made a typo and couldn’t get it out by the usual backspacing. I had to go pretend I didn’t pay rent and then set it back to I pay rent, and then re-enter from scratch. I don’t know what’s up with that. At least for the most part, it was good.

So, if you haven’t done it already, go fill out the census. If you need any help, I would think the help line would still be working but I’m not sure. If they’ve shut it down, they probably have a message on there directing you where to go. The number is 1-855-700-2016. They have some pretty good hours.

Happy census-completing. At least this time, that isn’t really a sarcastic remark. For me, at least, it was a pretty trouble-free experience.

You’re Dead Meat! Cheeseburger Meat, To Be Specific

Let the record show that 2016’s first food feud death has taken place and involves one brother shooting another when an argument over a cheeseburger got way out of hand.

A Florida man is facing first-degree murder charges after police say he shot and killed his brother during an argument over a cheeseburger. “We were in a fight and I grabbed a gun and I shot him. Oh my god,” Benjamin Middendorf said in a 911 call released by the St. Cloud Police Department. Police received a call just after 10pm on Thursday about a shooting at a home in St. Cloud.

According to investigators, Benjamin Middendorf, 25, shot his brother, Nicholas Middendorf, 28, in the chest with a 9mm handgun during an argument. “My son, just shot my son,” Middendorf’s mother told a dispatcher during an emotional 911 call. Nicholas Middendorf died at the home. “This is an impulsive incident that happened.

“Maybe anger, rage. But it was definitely over a verbal dispute that sadly was over a cheeseburger,” St. Cloud Police Department spokesperson Denise Roberts said.

Alcohol was involved, but the only ones that had been drinking were mom and Nicholas, A.K.A. the victim. Benjamin (the shooter) told police that he doesn’t drink and it’s not stated how much the others had had, so it’s hard to pin this one on booze at this point.

Benjamin has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder.