Warm Up the Woodchuck

At Quaquanantuck’s First Ever “Write Your Own Joke” Feature
Go ahead. It’s ok if you want to keep it to yourself, or workshop it with friends and family, but At Quaquanantuck is hoping some brave reader will share their original joke written in response to the following news item that popped up this week:

“Tyson Foods is recalling 36,420 pounds of chicken nuggets because they may be contaminated with rubber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Tuesday.”

Chicken. Rubber. Recall. Go!

Artificially Intelligent Etiquette
A few readers have joined the recent discussion in At Quaquanantuck about adhering to the rules of common courtesy when communicating with AI in its different representations.

Jeffrey Adams cited as a helpful reference the 2014 Spike Jonze movie “Her,” in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system represented as a virtual assistant. Spike Jonze won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film, and the virtual assistant was voiced by Scarlett Johansson, so why wouldn’t the protagonist fall in love with her, or more properly, it?

To that recommendation, At Quaquanantuck would also add the sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina,” nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay the same year (2014). This film has Domhnall Gleeson, predictably, falling for an AI humanoid robot played by Alicia Vikander … hence predictably. Without completely spoiling the film, it’s enough to say that it provides some hair-raising answers to the question, “What could go wrong?”

shinnecock sunset
Shinnecock sunset. —A. Botsford Photo

Moving from cinematic fiction to the quotidienne concerns of interacting with the “smart” technology so woven into our lives today, faithful reader Roger Moley writes:

I absolutely agree you about being courteous to AI entities. One of Alexa’s deficiencies (and there are many) is that if you say “Thank you” after receiving some intel—the weather, time, turning off the music … is there anything else?—she (it) says nothing, having been programmed to respond only after “hearing” the “Alexa” prompt. So we feel foolish being courteous to a machine and, yes, it carries over to our interactions with humans. Amazon should update the software to have Alexa say “You’re welcome” when thanks are offered without addressing her (it) directly after a service is provided. Or even better, “You’re welcome, you sexy hunk.”

Amazon, are you listening? (The answer, if you have Alexa in your house, is probably yes.)

Now moving from politesse to the issue of privacy in the consumer surveillance tech industrial  complex, At Quaquanantuck would like to make its own recommendation: a New York Times installment in the “Tech We’re Using” series featuring a Q&A with Quogue’s own Nick Confessore. To read the whole article, click here.

The headline on this installment is: “He Reported on Facebook. Now He Approaches It With Caution.” The subhead offers this background: “Nick Confessore, an investigative reporter who has written about social media and data privacy, has changed his tech habits after what he has learned.”

Nick’s response to the final question struck a chord with At Quaquanantuck:

NYT: “Outside of work, what tech do you and your family love to use and why?”

NC: “We’re a pretty analog family. Aside from the requisite phones, laptops and iPad, I don’t have a lot of gear. Most of the gadgets we do have I don’t actually like.

“Sonos is a great-sounding speaker with an inexplicably unwieldy user interface that makes me want to throw my phone out the window. (Hey, Sonos, why can’t I just play my songs directly from my phone’s Music app?) The Nest learning thermostats never seem to actually learn anything. (Also, the Nests give Google the equivalent of a couple of cameras in my home.)

“I’ve shied away from voice-activated speakers like Amazon Echo. I find these devices extremely creepy. For now, the only such device in my home is in my older daughter’s room. She really, really wanted a Google Home.

“I have a few guitars and a nice big tube amplifier that I never get to turn on, because it’s New York, I live in an apartment and I want my neighbors to like me. We cook a lot but don’t have an Instant Pot. Don’t @ me.”

Amen, Nick. And thank you for your first-rate reporting on all the subjects you cover.

feeding sunset t prentis
Dinner at dusk. —Tricia Prentis Photo

Quogue Library Gearing Up for Groundhog Day This Saturday
The library’s second annual Groundhog Day celebration will be held on Saturday, February 2, at 9 a.m. at the front entrance to the Firehouse on Jessup Avenue. For the village’s first such marmota monax meteorological prognostication, held last year at the library, Fire Chief and Code Enforcement Officer Chris Osborne was asked to stand in for Hizzoner Peter Sartorius as master of ceremonies.

quahog groundhog
Orthodonture, anyone?

Now that the forecast of an early spring or longer winter has been moved to the Firehouse, it seems even more appropriate for Chief Osborne, in full regalia, to serve in loco pro maiori, ably, charmingly and beautifully assisted by the library’s Community Events Representative Selina Pasca.

And, while spellings vary, it seems that Malverne Mal, a wounded woodchuck rescued by the Save The Animals Rescue (STAR) foundation and traveling to Quogue for the occasion, is being dubbed Quahog the Groundhog of Quogue for this specific occasion.

A  gathering with coffee and pastries will follow the forecast inside the Firehouse.

Library Program on Hearing Loss and Memory at Firehouse February 7
In a program sponsored by the Quogue Library, Dr. Mary Bohr, Au.D., will address the correlation between untreated hearing loss and memory loss at the Quogue Firehouse on Thursday, February 7, at 4 p.m.

“Brain hearing” is a term used to emphasis the important role the brain plays in hearing. We hear with our brains. As we age, even mild hearing loss can have hidden effects on cognitive function and neural integrity. All are asked to bring questions to this informative discussion in order to serve as your own best advocate.

At Wildlife Refuge, a Journey to McNeil River Brown Bear Sanctuary
Photographer Kevin Ferris (ozarkimages.com) will be in the Nature Center at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, February 2,  at 4 p.m. to lead an excursion to the McNeil River Brown Bear Sanctuary on the Alaska Peninsula.brown bear

This sanctuary is a unique place for up-close viewing of wildlife, especially, as the name would suggest, brown bears. Mr. Ferris has visited the McNeil River sanctuary several times and his program on Saturday will cover the history of the sanctuary, the conservation approach applied at McNeil, as well as his experience as a wildlife photographer. With the sanctuary accessible only through a lottery system, Saturday’s program is likely the only way most Quogue residents will have an opportunity to experience it. The fee is $5 per person and reservations are required; call 631-653-4771 or click here.

Winter Wildlife Camp Returns to Refuge for Schools’ February Recess
No time like the present to sign up children for the Winter Wildlife Camp offered during the upcoming February school recess at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.  

This popular camp program—running from Tuesday through Friday, February 19 to 22, with sessions of different duration offered—is for kids age 5 to 11. The morning session starts at 9 a.m. and ends at noon; the full-day session also starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. each day.

renee teaching c. john neely
Environmental Educator Renee Allen during an animal encounter during a previous Winter Wildlife Camp at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. —C. John Neely Photo

Both sessions of the camp’s well documented “amazing experience” provide three hours of immersion in wildlife, education and an abundance of “fun.”

A hike and a craft will be offered each day, so parents are asked to dress the young outdoorspersons for the weather. In addition, all campers should bring an individual snack and drink each day, plus lunch for those who are signed up for the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. extended session.

In addition to other activities, during the daily “animal encounter” children will be able to feed and handle some of the animals that live in the Nature Center.

The morning session fee is $45 per day, or $150 for the four-day program. The extended session fee is $90 per day or $330 for the four-day program. Registration and payment are required in advance. Registration and payment are required in advance; call 653-4771. For more information, visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.org or call 653-4771.

At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.

One thought on “Warm Up the Woodchuck

  1. Probably not for publication. As long as you mentioned The film ” Ex Machine” and its star Alicia Vikander, Abigail’s husband Mans Ericson is a long time friend of hers from Sweden and they have been to some “lavish parties” in various exotic locations. French Villas outside Paris, So California, island retreats etc. But the Swedes don’t place much emphasis on the notion of “celebrity”. Jeff


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