Deus ex machina is a Latin phrase borrowed from the Ancient Greeks which refers to 'god from the machine'. A few years ago I first became aware of the term when I went to the cinemas to see a film of a similar name. I enjoyed the film and in the story line, the artificial intelligence robot seized an opportunity and dealt humanity, in the form of actor Domhnall Gleeson (who is also in the latest Star Wars franchise instalment), a harsh blow.
That is the thing about artificial intelligence, you never quite know who's side it's on. I was considering this problem the other day, because over the past few months I have had dealings with a semi-intelligent ticket vending machine in a car park. I loathe this particular machine and I hope it gets a pox!
Unfortunately, I know a lot more about car parks than any sane human should. One fun fact about car parks is that they make for boring dinner conversation, so I never talk about car parks. Another thing I noticed about car park owners and operators, is that they always want to make more money from their car park and so there is a temptation to replace human ticket vendors with a machine. What could possibly go wrong?
Every few weeks or so, the editor and I share a car journey into the big smoke. I like car pooling with the editor as we talk about a lot of rubbish (and serious stuff) and generally have a nice time. Sometimes, unfortunately for me, that nice time ends in a car park in a run down inner suburban shopping mall. Even not washing the small Suzuki Swift dirt mouse is no guarantee of a trouble free parking existence there. At a guess I reckon over half the shops in the mall are empty and I pay $16 per day for the privilege of that car spot. The mall has a feeling of decay, which is quite unusual in Melbourne.
Out front of the mall, what appears to me to be groups of junkies, hang around swapping barely coherent words at high volume all the while enjoying the morning summer sun. Into that heady mix of humanity, there are also high stress looking women wearing active wear and pushing prams. Meanwhile, the tolerant old timers who hail from post European WWII immigration, well they push shopping jeeps and form lines outside the banks on pension days. It is a strange mix of people, but the only thing that has given me hassles in that area so far is the loathsome semi-intelligent ticket vending machine.
Machines are meant to obey commands and perform functions. But who really knows what an artificial intelligence will possibly even want, and given my experience, I sure don't want to find out. I'm certain the machine is playing tricks on me because every time I use the thing, it does something different. Sometimes, the machine refuses to accept credit cards and demands cash. I feel as though I am being shaken down for loose change by this machine, which is possibly how it is. Sometimes the machine issues a receipt, and other times it teases me by suggesting that a receipt will be forthcoming, but it never appears. And other times, no receipt is offered. This semi-intelligent machine sure has a complex personality.
The other day was the final straw for me. I couldn't believe it. The machine refused to accept payment by credit card. Indignantly, I fed cash into the machine, and then just to add insult to injury, the nasty piece of work short changed me. I'd kick the machine if I wasn't so concerned about injuring my foot and all of the ubiquitous security cameras that like in a scene from George Orwell's classic book 1984, record all of our goings on.
But of course, it wasn't really the final straw because in the future I know I'm going to have to have interactions with this machine again!
Fortunately, my grumpiness at the machines last insult was short lived because I soothed my shattered nerves with a coffee and a small cake. Now here is the interesting bit. I have known the lovely lady who served me that day at the cafe for more than a decade, but perhaps less than two decades, and without me even mentioning my interactions, she slipped me a free cake for being such a long term and delightful customer. My faith in humanity was restored, my faith in machines, well not so much...
As an interesting side note, I have a secret super power. Everyone does. My secret super power is that for some reason people who serve cakes and other delightful pastry items tend to occasionally provide me with free food. I'm unsure why this is the case, but as the old timers used to say: You must not look a gift cake in the mouth! Wise words and life is too short to go without tasty cakes and pastries!
A couple of good summer storms have rolled over the farm this week. The first storm changed the prevailing weather from very hot summer days to what felt to me like the late days of autumn. The rolling cloud sure looked impressive and there were even a few thunder claps to send a Scritchy the boss dog to hide under the bed (her super power is that she is a storm detective and can predict storms hours in advance. Sometimes the storms are even as far away as interstate).
|A thick storm cloud rolled over the farm late this week and turned summer into what felt like late autumn|
By the time the second storm rolled over the farm, we were running the wood heater and it felt like early winter. The setting sun as seen through the thick clouds looked awesome.
|The storm that followed soon cooled the area further and it soon felt like early winter|
The frogs enjoyed the rain and I discovered this frog on the side of the house sheltering from the storm.
|Tree frogs seem to be multiplying around here!|
Scritchy did not enjoy the rapid change into winter like conditions and I placed a woollen jumper over her so that she kept warm.
|Scritchy the boss dog was very cold after the storm, so I draped my woollen jumper over her|
At other times, Scritchy was busy monitoring her fluffy collective.
|Scritchy monitors the fluffy collective as they enjoy a well earned rest|
|Ollie enjoys a well earned rest among the fluffy collective|
'Tis the season for storing sun dried and seasoned firewood for use over the coming winter. This week we spent two days on that task, and this year we have been moving firewood down hill which is a remarkably easier job than bringing it back up the hill. Who would have thought that? We have been using gravity and simply throwing firewood downhill. The firewood had been cut years ago and has been well seasoned. In between relocating the firewood and storing it, we leave any damp chunks out in the hot summer sun for a few days, before then storing it away.
|A huge stack of firewood was thrown down the hill and was then stacked|
|Another load of cut and split firewood drying in the hot summer sun prior to storing|
|We have the technology, we can rebuild the rear flap for the bright yellow trailer!|
|Have arc welder, can rebuild! 100% solar powered too. Hello Ollie!|
Speaking of scrap steel, we decided to use some scrap aviary steel mesh to temporarily increase the height of the dog fence in their outdoor run. Ollie looks like he may be an escape artist extraordinaire because I tied his lead to a post near to where I was working and he undid the complex latch and came bounding over to tell me about his latest feat of trickery!
|Temporary steel aviary mesh was added to the dog enclosure to increase the height of the fencing|
|The author interacts with Ollie the Australian cattle dog puppy. Ollie is concerned!|
|Lots of yummy apricots fresh from the trees!|
|It looks like it may be an excellent blackberry year|
|Surely cucumbers are of the Triffid family of plants?|
|Chilean guavas are swelling in size. This fruit is tasty as!|
|We made a batch of elderflower wine, but the thousands of berries I am leaving as a gift to the birds|
|A bee and some bugs are enjoying this Balm of Gilead. There is no privacy in bugland.|
|The bees also enjoy this Cat Mint|
|This Salvia looks great and produces reliable flowers despite the heat that summer can throw at it|
|Lavender is another hot weather loving plant|
|The mint family of plants is as summer hardy as and this Oregano is no exception|
|If nothing else flowers in a hot summer, the Agapanthus always delivers for the bees|