The Dog Clicker

Feedback is an important but often overlooked aspect of any design.  Feedback manifests when a light turns on after the flick of a switch.  Feedback comes when you chirp your car lock. Feedback is also enjoyed when your airbags deploy informing you that the semi did run that red light and that your car did really do a 1080.

It’s when you don’t receive feedback that you irritably notice the uncertainty to if the machine understood the last command you issued.  When you click a button on a website there is a noticeable absence if the button doesn’t graphically “press in” or make a click sound.  Small things like this can send a reasonably calm person into a frenzy, mashing the button over and over again until finally the screen pops up informing you that you have ordered 13 iPads.

Dogs also need feedback to help prevent them from insane behavior as well.  If you don’t give a dog understandable feedback after he completes a command, there is a good chance that he will never be sure that he actual satisfied you by, say, sitting down.  He could think your hand gesture meant for him to shit all over the house.  The dog goes running and shitting all over the house and keeps looking back for affirmation.  Yelling may be a rally call to continue shitting and so he does, all over the kitchen.  When you chase him, he runs into the bathroom and pees on the linoleum and when you scramble after him in the bathroom you slip on the pee and the dog points at you and laughs.  This is a failure to feedback.

The dog clicker was designed to prevent dogs from getting a mind of their own when it comes to completing commands.  A click punctuates each command and the dog knows that sitting was the only command in mind.  The dog is happy to please you and you are happy the dog is not shitting all over the house.

After completing a session of dog training, I needed to buy some hardware.  I selected my hardware and went to the self-checkout.  Sometimes when you buy hardware they try to put bar code stickers on things that are too tiny to scan.  I kept trying to scan the screw.  I really wanted to buy the screw.  They haven’t invented 3D lasers to scan 360 degrees around a screw bar code yet.  It’s because a kid might put their head inside inside of the laser and look at the laser at 360 degrees and go blind and have to be stuck working at Lowe’s for the rest of their life. I was getting mad at the self checkout robot and started slamming the screw on the scanner.

The Lowe’s self checkout Guard came over to see what the big problem was.  He calmly showed me how to remove the sticker from the screw so it could be scanned.  He put it on his finger and scanned his finger.  For a second I was afraid that I was going to have to buy the checkout Guard and wasn’t sure how much a human being would cost and if I was going to have to raise the limit on my credit card and where he would fit inside of my house. It made me sweat so I put my hands in my pocket.  Then the machine beeped.  Feedback.  And the price showed on the screen for $0.19.  Double Feedback.

I noticed that the dog clicker was still in my pocket!  Since the checkout Guard had done such a good job, I clicked the dog clicker. *CLICK* Triple Feedback!  He looked up at me, so  I pet him on the head and told him that he did a good job.  He made a happy face and started panting. Another satisfying Lowe’s experience.

I got a text on my phone that told me I should meet some friends for some food and drinks. With my new screw in tow, I went to the bar.

At the bar the waitress brought us all of our drinks.  When I had confirmed that she had brought everything correctly, *CLICK* I let her know.  She looked around and made a confused face, but knew she did a good job.

After the second round she asked what the heck the *CLICK* noise was.  I told her that she was really smart and being such a good girl.  I pet her on the head and told her to fetch us some food.

Instead of food the manager of the store came over.  He told me that I had to leave the bar because I was touching the waitress without permission.  I told him that he had a really good waitress working for him and he should be proud of how smart she was and she had a really shiny coat and that he must be feeding her food other than bar food.  He asked if I was on drugs.  I didn’t click the clicker since the manager was wrong.  The manager started to get mad at me and said he was going to call the police if I did not leave.  I did not click the dog clicker because he was being a bad boy.

The policeman came and brought a big dog with him. The dog started smelling me when the manager pointed at me.  But the dog kept looking at the manager.

*CLICK* the dog looked at the manager.  *CLICK* the dog started smelling the manager.  *CLICK* the dog started smelling the manager’s pockets.  The manager tried to get away from the dog but it started following him.  I started clicking the dog clicker, rapid fire, and the dog got more and more aggressive with the manager.  *CLICK CLICK CLICK* the dog started barking really loud. *CLICK CLICK CLICK* the dog started biting the manager on the arms and neck.  *CLICK CLICK CLICK*.  The whole bar was watching.

Finally the policeman made the dog stop biting the manager. The dog sat down facing the manager and the cop found a bag of grass inside of the manager’s pocket.  The policeman put the bag in his pocket and told me that I did a good job.  With no audible click I didn’t know if there was some extenuating circumstances to his compliment, but he put his hand up and we did a high five (a form of feedback for cool people).

Then the policeman took the bag of grass out of his pocket and held it in the air.  “The next round of drinks is on the manager!” he said.  The manager wearily sat up with his hand to his head.  The policeman threw the bag of grass to the bartender and the whole bar cheered.  I clicked merrily in satisfaction.


What They’re Not Telling You About Health Care

Last weekend in Chicago we were out on a corner trying to find Giordano’s. My friend was being verbally pigeonholed by a homeless guy.  When my phone GPS picked up, I shouted to my friend that I had found the way and hoped to save him from the harassment!  The homeless guy knew what i was doing and targeted me for his attack.

“Hey man!” He charged towards me.  “Maybe you can help me! I need a couple buck to get a cab to find my sister’s body.” He shouted at me in a distinctive raspy voice.

“Sorry I can’t help you.” His sister’s body?!

We started walking.

“Hey, don’t treat me like a dog here!  I’m talking to you and you treating me like a dog! I know you got a couple bucks to spare.  Stop doggin’ me man!” He was walking sideways now and getting in my face.

I stopped, stared him down and said very directly, “If I was treating you like a dog, I’d be stooped down and petting you on the head, while my other hand checked your collar to find a phone number to return you to your owner.  Somehow I don’t think that would go over very well…”

With that, he gave up and moved on.. in search of his sister’s body.

Some days I wish I were homeless. True freedom would be life without a house payment, utility bills, excise tax, income tax, social security tax, doing tax returns, buying gasoline, paying for tolls, going to work, etc… When you’re homeless it’s just you against the world and when you wake up in the street the potential to do anything is only limited by how far your feet will take you, and locked doors. The only tax you really have to pay is the sales tax on the liquor that you buy to celebrate finding your sister’s body!

Which apparently was what was happening.

The next morning – St Patrick’s Saturday – we were buying some alcohol at the liquor store.  While we were checking out the same homeless guy walked in, forwarded by his distinctive raspy voice. He was greeted by warm welcomes from the employees. They knew him by name! I didn’t want him to recognize me as the dog man so I ducked my head under my festive green fedora.

Then he said, “Hey!”

I didn’t look up.

He said, “Hey man!”

Of course he recognizes me.  I looked up. (He was tall)

“I like your hat.” He said with a smile.

I told him thanks and offered to buy his 6-pack of Bud.  (I didn’t want to give him money last night because I was afraid he would waste it on food.)

The alarming thing to the “Health Care” law is that every US citizen human being is now going to be required to carry health insurance, even if you don’t want it.  To some people that might not seem like such a big deal, but how many other things are required for citizenship?  You don’t actually have to have a social security number unless you want a bank account or a job – both are a pain!  As a man, you do have to register for Selective Service at 18, but you can easily slip through the cracks if you choose to live on the streets.  Some people compare it to the car insurance requirement, but if you don’t have a car, you don’t buy insurance ahead of time in hopes that one day you do own a car!

Health care is being pushed on everyone with a physical body like car insurance is required for a car.  Everyone has a body; even homeless people.  It appears that the only way to avoid health care is to somehow shed human form.  But how can you do that?

Can you leave your body by practicing transcendental meditation?  When the IRS comes swarming your temple for not paying your health premiums you will be blissfully free in the ethereal plane.  The problem with meditation is that you have to eventually eat.  When you stop chanting, the IRS agents will see you materialize on the pink meditation pillow and arrest you for not paying your bills.

Animals aren’t going to be required to buy health insurance!  I learned from Tim Allen in The Shaggy Dog that if you’re bitten by the sacred Khyi-yag-po dog that you will be able to turn yourself into a dog!  If this is your draft dodge of choice, you’ll want to be sure to train yourself like Pavlov to begin your salivation when you hear a knock on the door.  Practice by having someone knock on the door and squint real hard to try to turn into a dog each time you hear a knock.

You’ll be glad you did, because when the IRS come, their knocking will trigger your inner dog transformation.  When they break down the door and start shouting and aiming their shotguns, you will run up and start licking the agents in the face! (MAKE SURE THE TRANSFORMATION IS COMPLETE) Everyone loves man’s best friend.  The IRS will leave satisfied that a dog owns your home and you can go on living your health-insurance-free life as a half-man, half-dog, crazy person.

As a bonus you will be given rights that humans don’t have like not having to wear clothes and getting to go to the bathroom on the sidewalk! People will pet you on the head and hand you treats.  Your only real fear will be from the evil dog catchers!

Maybe, raspy homeless man, I was paying you a compliment by treating you like a dog.  You are truly free.