Category Archives: Musings

Roomba Ants

When I was a kid — probably pre-teen through late teens — I would spend parts of some of my summer days watching ants. The ants I watched most lived on the south side of my childhood home, under the fragrant rose bush. I was fascinated by their constant movement — they never seemed tired.

I remember one year when my family and I went on vacation and returned to find what had been a whole peanut on the kitchen floor, now reduced to near powder and a line of small ants carrying bits of that peanut powder several feet to the back door and outside. So much work for something so small.

Yesterday while taking care of business in our powder room, I noticed movement on the floor near the door. I looked closer and saw several ants working to maneuver what looked like a corn chip crumb into a tiny hole on the intersection between the door’s threshold and woodwork. I saw that the ants were coming from outside the powder room and followed a line of ants to under our kitchen table.

Please take note that sweeping and washing the kitchen floor was on my to-do list yesterday so no judging please but it was obvious that there was a smorgasbord of food under the table and the ants were taking advantage of it.

Since I had a lunch date with my friend, Suzanne, I ended up not sweeping the kitchen floor and left the ants go about their business.

This morning there are fewer ants and fewer crumbs. They are quieter than a Roomba, don’t get stuck under the refrigerator, and don’t need charging. I think I’ll keep them.

WordleBot is a smug, pompous, conceited botsplainer

Sure, after I finish playing Wordle I do not have to check WordleBot’s egotistical analysis of my daily attempts but I do anyway. Call it hopeful (maybe WordleBot will praise me) or maybe self-destructive (WordleBot often shames me for not using the same guesses as it does), but I check in with WordleBot about 95% of the time. The only times I don’t check is when I’ve made a very stupid guess.

The NYT WordleBot introduction page has this to say about WordleBot:

“WordleBot is a tool that will take your completed Wordle and analyze it for you. It will give you overall scores for luck and skill on a scale from 0 to 99 and tell you at each turn what, if anything, you could have done differently — if solving Wordles in as few steps as possible is your goal.”

Josh Katz and Matthew Conlen, New York Times

The thing is, WordleBot never loses. But WordleBot doesn’t play the hard version either. It’s always using words that do not have the letters previously uncovered. I always play the hard version.

Another gripe I have with WordleBot is that it’s happy to give me positive reinforcement if I do worse than it, but if I get the correct word in fewer tries than WordleBot it tells me I was very lucky. Not “Congratulations, you beat me!” but more like “Eh, lucky guess.”

Today, for instance, I guessed the correct word in two tries. WordleBot guessed it in three. Here’s what WordleBot had to say:

“You got it! But, with 10 solutions still to choose from, this was a very lucky guess.”

WordleBot July 19, 2022

I am not alone in my criticism of WordleBot. Back in April (before I knew about WordleBot), Christopher Livingston over at PC Gamer wrote an amusing article with an equally amusing title, The official Wordle companion bot is here to tell you how bad you are at Wordle. Also in April, Mashable’s Cecily Moran wrote NYT’s new ‘WordleBot’ will passive-aggressively insult your strategy. Finally, Alice O’Connor, associate editor at Rock Paper Scissors wrote an article about WordleBot called Wordle’s official WordleBot analysis make me feel even more foolish.

Where at Least Someone Knows My Name

I grew up in a smallish town where one often ran into people they knew when they were out and about. My parents went to specific bars where they were known by name — the Moose, the Dutch Inn, the sports bar whose name I have forgotten.

Moving from Elgin to Pittsburgh, I became an unknown. There was nowhere except my places of employment where I was known. Moving to Alexandria, the same — there was not one place other than work where anyone knew my name.

I wanted a “Cheers Bar” place where I was known. I wanted to be a regular somewhere. I was tired of being a stranger in places I frequented.

About fifteen years ago I finally got my wish. The owner of a restaurant we liked greeted me by name after visiting only a couple of times. Just because of that we’ve continued to go there — for dinner, for lunch, for bottles of wine or six-packs of beer.

A month or so ago I was surprised when the local fishmonger didn’t have to ask my name when I stopped by to pick up my fish order. I laughed and said I felt like I was walking into the Cheers Bar. He may be to young to understand, but hey… he knew my name.

Finally, just yesterday when I was shopping at a local boutique for a mother of the groom dress* for Andrew’s wedding, one of the sales people remembered my first name after hearing my last name. So that kind of counts, right?

I think I am sort of close to being known in another store, but I need to go more often.

*The dress I bought