Gave these unusual "snow strawberries" a try... intriguing to look at on the outside, unfortunately boring to taste on the inside. Well, sometimes life is like that... at least I got an interesting picture and anecdote out of it.
I've personally really been enjoying creating specialty chatbots on the Character AI platform as focused advisors and assistants. I've now got chatbots to help me write short business writings, create ESL English examples and quizzes, and help me with world building and character development for my fantasy story lines. I even decided to compete with myself professionally and create a chatbot who gives oracle card readings... honestly, it felt kind of liberating.
I also use ChatGPT for all these things, but what I like about Character AI is that if I set up their style and knowledge correctly, they will pretty consistently maintain that in their output automatically. Also they can have spoken voices and generate their own art images for me (super useful for my world builders and card reader).
Anyway, you can try them freely from here:
And by the way, if you want to see what internal prompts they are following, you can just look at their full settings in the menu. They are not hiding any secrets...
and if you are inspired to try creating your own, you can learn how with this free video tutorial I did with my friend and authentic business consultant George Kao:
Create your own chatbots on Character AI
Learn how to train and direct your chatbots with advanced settings, add audio and image generation, and use Character AI's most unique feature: multi-character ROOMS!
For the historical Renaissance literature, theatre and drama fans out there, I just created, tested, and trained a new William Shakespeare chatbot that can hold an extended conversation in pseudo-authentic Elizabethan-style English language. He's not perfect, but he schooled me on the arts of poetry and love, so go see what he's got for you...
Please enjoy, and deliver unto him my fair regards...
Wrapped up Disney's new Willow series... my mixed feelings at the start intensified in both directions as it went along until the 4th episode really turned me around and the 5th decisively won me over. I had stuck with it because decent fantasy is hard to come by, and now I'm glad I did (and hoping for a second season!).
The YA young adult angst and interactions were definitely annoying at first, and the modern songs in the soundtrack jarring in the fantasy setting. But the characters do develop and really start growing on you, as does the sense of tense camaraderie, humor, and modern language/music that Disney seems to have borrowed from Marvel.
To me it very much had the feeling of a D&D campaign with its diverse cast of main characters who start out at first level and grow together through various challenges of combat, magic, questing, and soul-searching... It was adventurous, fun, and kinda cool. By the end I thoroughly enjoyed it, and if you are a young adult or just tired of the serious heavy dystopian doom that hangs over contemporary storytelling, you might also love it. I definitely recommend at least giving it a try--
Happy Holidays everyone! If you have Disney+ I can heartily recommend The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. It's completely ridiculous and also quirkily heartwarming in just the way that Marvel seems to excel at managing... and it's got Bacon. What more could you ask for?!
And by the way, if you celebrate any of the many not-christmas holidays, this is offbeat and irreverent enough concerning its Christmastime setting that I'm pretty sure you can enjoy it too. In fact, you may especially enjoy the original Christmas song in the first scenes, as did I (...I'm personally still not a huge Christmas fan...)
I went for a short run today for the first time since the hot, humid summer began... This is probably mostly because my lovely wife said my cute little butt is starting to get a little soft, but also I've definitely been spending too much time working with that cute butt in a chair, and anyway moving swiftly is good for the heart, mind, and energy flow--
The increased circulation drove my murder-hornet attack wound mad with itchiness (it still looks a little red and angry) but I'm happy to report that's just superficial. The underlying muscle and knee joint is fully operational. I took it light and easy so as not to strain anything, but I'm looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow. To health, safety, and a firmer butt!
UPDATE: Showered post-exercise with a cup of soy milk yogurt instead of soap... now I'm feeling fresh and smooth and maybe delicious...
Last night we were in the darkened atrium watching The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime when suddenly, right in the middle of a very tense scene surrounded by orcs, there was a big thud followed by thumping up on the roof...
We were startled, turned on some outside lights, and went up to the loft to close the ventilation windows. In the loft I could hear whatever it was cross from the east side all the way across to the west side as I was closing windows right below it...
Still have no idea what it was. Our roof is a high-ceilinged 2-stories without external access except to flying creatures. There are no squirrels or raccoons here. There are monkeys in nearby mountains but I've never seen any in our little valley and the nearest tree is much too far a leap. Don't know what kind of bird it could have been thumping around on an open roof in the middle of the night, but that's the most probable answer so far. The preferred answer would be a flying squirrel gliding down from the surrounding cedar trees. They do exist but they are rare and I've never seen one. I would love to add flying squirrels to the menagerie that we have somehow organically developed here over the past few years--
Let it be a flying squirrel. Please not goblins. nor monkeys.
Fluffy Flying Squirrels would be delightful. (I think)
Climbed through the ventilation windows onto the roof this afternoon to investigate during the daylight... I'm not Aragorn, but I'm pretty observant and I found nothing of interest to report. So we are left with a mystery to be solved another time...
Last week's mysterious rooftop visitor returned to thump about again, this time with more urgency or desperation or mania... but this time I was ready for action. I turned off all the lights and pointed my big flashlight through the loft ventilation windows to catch a passing glimpse of the long tail and cute face of a masked palm civet. A bit rare in this region and totally nocturnal, they look kinda like a raccoon-ferret-skunk hybrid. Not a flying squirrel as hoped, not some large bird as expected, but also not a monkey, goblin, or orc...
A NEW CHAPTER:
Well, it's been about half a year, and the situation has evolved. It turned out that our initial visitor was a masked civet jumping onto the roof from the nearby overgrown jungle trees. Civets are cute, but very destructive to houses, and this one started scratching the roof maniacally trying to get in and live in our loft. After several midnight visitations, I trimmed back the overgrown branches beyond its jumping range. No more thumping in the night, and the surrounding forest had a healthier layering to the foliage.
A little later, we were visited by a badger who took shelter from a morning rainstorm UNDER the house. Also quite cute, and also potentially destructive to the foundation, so after he woke up in the evening, we discouraged his returning by asking Alexa to play sounds of barking dogs and howling wolves... which honestly felt a little silly.
Finally, six months later in the spring, a midnight thumping and skittering on the roof signaled a new arrival from the tall surrounding cedar trees.
And guess who?
Yes, at last, a Japanese giant flying squirrel. Yay!
Looks like someone is living in our woodpile... This morning I uncovered the woodpile to dry out after the typhoon because we'll be needing it next month, and found this Aodaisho "Blue General" snake sleeping in there. From the sheddings in, on, and around the woodpile, it seems he has been making this his home for a while, and probably he's the baby snake I used to find curled up on the back deck last spring. We'll have to be a little careful of him while getting wood this autumn, but this is actually a good situation because Aodaisho are not poisonous and they keep away the highly dangerous Mamushi Vipers.
Living this close with nature is always an adventure and a cooperative effort--