Patty – v.22

22nd century Automaton

Patty — 21st century Automaton, non-gendered, image from the 2014 film Ex Machina

Who is Patty you ask. Patty v.22 is the most human-like, human made automaton ever created to-date in the history of human ingenuity. Unprecedented. The prototype of Patty was actually designed, constructed, and finished in 1924. Naturally, Patty’s creator back then invested unbelievable, immeasurable time, care, love, exhausting hours, and sacrifice for Patty to become the most phenomenal automaton ever made. Or at least have the best chance of surviving. Patty-v.22 is undeniably and by far the highest standard of any automaton in the past, present, and foreseeable future. Patty-v.22 is indeed a creation and work of exquisite perfection! To appreciate just how perfectly engineered Patty-v.22 truly is let’s compare Patty’s predecessors.

Da Vinci’s Knight
Historical evidence suggests that Da Vinci may have actually built a prototype in 1495 while working under the patronage of the Duke of Milan. According to Da Vinci’s surviving sketches of key components, his knight was to be powered by an external mechanical crank and use cables and pulleys to sit, stand, turn its head, cross its arms and even lift up its metal visor. In 2002 NASA engineers built a rough resemblance of Da Vinci’s Knight based on extant notes and sketches. It was fully functional as designed.

The Mechanical Monk
According to legend, Phillip II’s son and heir suffered a head injury, and the King vowed to the heavens that he would deliver a miracle if the boy were spared. When the Prince recovered, Phillip II commissioned a clockmaker and inventor named Juanelo Turriano to build a lifelike recreation of beloved Franciscan friar Diego de Alcalá (later Saint Diego). Completed sometime in the 1560s, Turriano’s 15-inch-tall automaton is powered by a wound spring and uses an assortment of iron cams and levers to move on three small wheels concealed beneath its monk’s robe. Artificial feet step up and down to imitate walking, and the friar’s eyes, lips and head all move in lifelike gestures. Working together, these elements give the impression of a monk deep in prayer. The robot can walk in a square pattern mouthing devotionals, nodding its head and occasionally beating its chest with its right arm and kissing a rosary and cross with its left. The 450-year-old device is still operational today, and is held at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Al-Jazari’s Floating Orchestra
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Arabic polymath Al-Jazari designed and built some of the Islamic Golden Age’s most astounding mechanical creations. He invented a mechanized wine-servant, water-powered clocks and even a hand-washing machine that automatically offered soap and towels to its user. According to his “Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices,” published in 1206, he also designed a water-powered automaton orchestra that could float on a lake and provide music during parties. The contraption included a four-piece band—a harpist, a flautist and two drummers—accompanied by a crew of mechanical oarsman who “rowed” the musicians around the lake.

The Silver Swan
The still-functional “Silver Swan” is an avian automaton originally constructed by showman James Cox and watchmaker John Joseph Merlin in 1773. Using a trio of clockwork motors, the piece recreates the scene of a preening swan floating in a babbling brook. Levers and springs allow the bird to bend its neck and open its bill with startling realism, and an assortment of camshafts and glass rods create the illusion of a moving body of water with swimming fish—one of which the swan appears to catch and eat.
Seven Early Robots and Automatons, the History Channel’s website accessed Nov. 13, 2019 at

And then there is David Roentgen’s the Dulcimer Player he created in 1784 for Louis XIV’s queen, Marie Antoinette.

These astonishing, unbelievable human creations clearly showed that a human being’s passion, ingenuity, creativity, and pure relentless commitment, then or now, to make and maintain, care for, even build a legacy for the ages… could/can outlive time itself, or close to it. But there is a major catch, a major condition that comes with these exquisite works of praise and creation and their timeless evolution through the ages.

They cannot survive or maintain their impeccable beauty and awe without the creator’s (or creators’) regular attentiveness and willing maintenance.

Imagine if you will your own, perfected, tested and retested by years of design experience, an incomparable automaton creation, that relationship, commitment, unwavering persistence for your best possible outcomes for your best automaton to survive and perform above and beyond expectations. Can that human creation of beauty be robotically wound-up, put out on the sidewalks, streets, and highways of life, and be expected to go out and survive unscratched, return home in mint condition, let alone navigate all of those endless moving variables, road-blocks, pot-holes, stop-lights, one-way wrong-way signs, or never be rewound during its LONG real-world trek when its mechanisms are eventually spent, out of energy, exhausted? Can works of art for the ages just be wound up, left alone and expected to survive out there, let alone thrive?

Is it possible for a 1-in-a-million creation, work of art between two people, two hopeless Lovers to wind-up their automaton then expect it to return home perfectly unscathed? How would the most beautiful, work of creation, Patty-v.22, function in 1-year, 3-years, 10-years of no regular mechanical attentiveness by its creator/designer?

Why does anyone today think that a neglected creation of perfection, they once helped make or contributed in huge ways, might survive the hard test of time and neglect over many months or years? Riddle me that.

Then there is a more humbling, possibly deeper penetrating, painful epiphany of existence too many human-creators tend to avoid or run away from—the 500 lbs gorilla in the room, the pink psychedelic elephant roaring in the room you supposedly cannot hear—which is… what is anything we build/create or passionately care for or neglect expected to last for eternity? HAH! That is one very jagged, sharp pill to swallow and pass like a kidney stone!

Perhaps realizing and humbly embracing the fact we are so very imperfect designers, so-so creative engineers, poor risk-assessors or underwriters that we then expect WAY TOO MUCH of our creations as contributors or designers is in fact… never perfect 24/7 over 365 days a year for 5, 10 or even 50-years. There is truly a lot to be admired and treasured for those who readily admit their imperfections, flaws, and lack of regular attentiveness to others. I think much of the time we are very self-consumed primates basking in our own creations of brilliance while oblivious to the constant change, wear and tear of time that constantly beset our fragile immortal works of creation and beauty. Neglect is the virus and cancer of all beautiful timeless legacies.


Live Well — Love Much More — Laugh Often — Be Humble — Learn Always

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Unplugging Kids

Interstate 45 Dallas to Houston

Interstate 45 Dallas to Houston

Several times a year during a holiday break our family would drive I-45 toward Galveston or I-35 toward Austin to spend time with family.  It was a trip I would always be excited about because of how much fun and mischief was going to be had with my many cousins.  One such game we would all play was bottle-rocket wars.  We would have these wars at night for as long as our money and rockets lasted.

My Uncle Bill was a construction worker and always had scrap metal and various random work site throw-aways out near his barn.  Three or four teams of two would have one cousin holding a 4-5 foot pipe while the other, with a bag of 30-50 bottle-rockets and two or three lighting pumps was the loader.  The loader placed the rocket in the back-end of the pipe like a bazooka, light the fuse and the shooter aimed as best he/she could.  Since most bottle-rockets were not an exact science as far as precision flight, these wars became hours of crazy laughing fun for us.  This is just one reason out of many that made the 5-hour drive so unbearably long for me and my sister because Dad could never drive fast enough.  For my parents it must have sometimes seemed like 12-hours.

This particular trip I’m sure my sister and I slept little the night before due to our growing anticipation; we were ready to come out of our skin.  About two hours into the drive in our four-door light blue Plymouth Gran Fury sedan, zipping along at 55-miles per hour, sitting in back with my sister, she would inevitably say something or do something to provoke me.  It was always her fault!

Several “stop its” and “you shut-up, no you shut-ups” later my Dad gave us our first warning.  Ten minutes would pass.  Again, my sister of course would whisper something mean to me or make a face at me, hence getting our second more firm warning from Dad.  Mom would try to intervene, sometimes successfully other times not.  She would not this go round.

The We’re-About-to-Blow Speech and Vulcan Death-Clamp

homerchokeMaybe 15-minutes later, my father’s voice raised several decibels and gave us one final ultimatum.  Had he not been driving he would have contorted out of the front seat and launched himself backwards to pop both of us on the legs or butts; and they would not have been love-taps.  His pops STUNG for a good ten minutes.  But the scariest part was knowing what was going to happen at the next stop.  Thinking about it was pure torture.  I’m sure Dad knew this too and worked it to the hilt.  One of his most potent we’re-about-to-blow speeches were when it included the Vulcan death-clamp under the collar-bone.  He’d stare at us like a drill sergeant.  It paralyzed us making our eyes seem to pop-out as our little knees quaked!  In my little mind not even God’s wrath scared me more than my Dad’s.

However, Dad explained he was not going to loose-it this time with us.  He had something different planned.  I doubt my idiot sister’s brain was processing as fast as mine trying to guess what “mystery punishment” was going to be thrown down.  I couldn’t imagine it would be anything that delayed our arrival with the family; Dad was a stickler for schedules and planning and no misbehaving kids of his were going to spoil the appointed arrival time.  After all, he was a mechanical engineer.  Precision was his specialty.  So what on earth could it be?  What was going to be the final fate of my sister and me?

Mile-Marker 241

Then the loose gravel on the shoulder of the highway began hitting the under-belly of the car.  Forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty-five miles per hour, then we came to a slow stop.  “Get out” he said sternly.  Mom looked at him puzzled.  Her expression didn’t ease my fear at all.  When I noticed that neither he nor my mother was getting out, I felt my palms get clammy and my pulse raise.  “Get out on the right side, both of you!” he said more firmly.  My sister looked like she had seen a ghost, but she exited the car with me.  He pointed “See that green sign that says 241?”  Then he explained what was about to happen for the next several miles.  We were going to find number 251.  Weird.  Was this a hunting math game?  Meanwhile, the traffic on the highway was whizzing by every few seconds, drivers and passengers all staring at our family moment as they passed.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

Both of you will now run next to the car.  Do not walk, do not stop. Run!”  He slowly began to pull away.  My sister and I stood there in shock.  “Get over in the grass and run!” he yelled, like those were about to be his last words we would ever hear from him.  In the spirit of sheer fear which would have put Forrest Gump to shame, I ran….I ran like the wind!  My sister screamed and quickly found her legs as well.  Dad pulled a bit ahead of us; we sped up.  The long grass didn’t help our stride.  I tried to glance down to see what not to step in or stumble over, but I couldn’t keep my cue-ball sized eyes off the car for fear of being left!  “Come on…run!” he yelled out the windows.

A half-mile gone we are still running next to or just behind the car, but never ahead of it for some reason.  About every third or fourth vehicle passing us would honk.  I have no clue about why; maybe they were cheering us on, maybe they were expressing their hysteria.  I don’t know.  What I do remember was how embarrassing it all was every honk and quarter-mile as onlookers stared at us; some grinned, some laughing, some astonished but all of it humiliating.

Approaching a mile and a half my sister and I are panting.  Will he show us mercy?  Where the hell was the next damn sign?  “Run!” was the answer.  It was always his answer until our little arms and legs were becoming jello.  I believe that was just over two miles later.  I was trying too hard to suck in as much air as my mouth could capture to notice any mile-marker.

Are you two finished fighting?” as he slowed to a stop.  Since we couldn’t utter a word for lack of oxygen, we both managed desperate nods yes.  Once back into our seats still trying to breathe, I laid my head against the door unable to say or think anything coherent about my sister.  I didn’t care.  I just wanted oxygen!  Mission accomplished.

For the next three hours that drive was perhaps the most pleasant drive the four of us had ever had to date and would be for years.

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Live Laugh Love

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