Thursday, October 1, 2009

I believe the family has fully adapted to the automatically-opening, motion-sensing trash can in the kitchen. It was not difficult, though I admit there are side effects. Sometimes, late at night, when I'm tired, I wave my hand in front of the toilet seat and wait for it to pop up. This always ends the same way: with me looking around to see if anyone noticed.

But it appears that we are not the only ones who have mastered the automated, motion-sensing trash can.

I was sitting at the downstairs computer, which is on a small table adjacent to the kitchen. It was night. Everyone was asleep. The house was still and quiet, and I was enjoying the down time, alone, reading some news. Out of the silence, about fifteen feet away, the trash can opened. It seemed to have happened all by itself, and then, after holding its lid up for the three seconds or so that it's programmed for, it shut. I just smirked and shook my head thinking, Damn electronics. I knew that thing wouldn't last a month. And then, a few minutes later it happened again... *open* ... *shut* ... I figured it was a signal that maybe the batteries were going bad or something, so I got up to check it out.

I went to the trash can, stood there for a moment, and waved my hand in front of it. It dutifully opened as commanded, as per Asimov's Second Law of Robotics, and that's when I saw him: the housefly. He emerged from the trash, waved thanks! and flew on by. I guess the thing can't be opened from the inside.

I didn't believe it, of course, and went back to my seat at the computer. I waited. I watched. Sure enough, the fly returned, bored with wherever it had gone for half a minute, and it approached the trash can and alighted upon the corner, near the lid. It crawled around a bit, found its way to the infrared sensor, walked over it, and up came the lid. It hopped down onto the trash, and down went the lid.

I couldn't believe my eyes. I went back over to see for myself and opened the can. Again, the fly emerged, flew out and off. I thought, Impressive, young Skywalker.

Back at the computer, after about a half hour, I was beginning to go insane from the *open* ... *close* ... *open* ... *close* ... and this clever fly with his convenient new fly-thru buffet. The little insectoid genius seemed to have learned to escape before the lid closed.

So I killed it. Because the last thing I need in my life right now is some hyper-intelligent housefly controlling my kitchen.