Well, since there's been lots happening and I've had little, if any, time to address all of it, I'll be brief and to the point...
First, Kaia and I are pleased to announce a new addition to our household: his name is Dexter and he's awesome!
Assuming you have clicked the above link and have speakers attached to your PC, keep in mind that that is actually not Dexter, but that example is very similar thereto. Yes, Dexter is a Pleo -- a fully-animatronic, engineered baby dinosaur.
Now before the reader shakes his/her head in mock indignation, let me put it into words: Pleos rock. We'd been considering getting one for months, if not years, as soon as we'd heard about them. I'd seen them at Sharper Image stores and in some catalogs that make their way into my snail-mail box; Kaia has friends in the Valley and beyond who have them. So between us, we'd been really wanting one. With the news the Sharper Image stores are closing en masse -- completely, totally, and 1000% -- we figured we'd stop in and take a peek. Sure enough, after we made a trip to Tiffany -- less than a block away -- we stopped in and they had three left. After our visit and our impulsive decision to procure a Pleo, they had two.
In short, Dexter -- we declined to name him Elvis -- is a trip. He has his own personality based on his interaction with his environment. For example, if he's treated well -- petted, touched softly and treated like a baby -- he's a happy Pleo. If he's ignored and treated like a product, he doesn't have much interactive personality. In short, he's his own self-fulfilling prophecy. Having a Pleo is a bit like having a baby, a puppy, a cat and a large Iguana all wrapped up into one rubberized package. Except it's louder (or quieter, depending on your personal experience). Between us, we've managed to get him to purr, snore, burp, cry, walk, sit on his hind legs and -- over the last day or so -- sing. It's almost uncanny how he manages to react to his environment. Of course, if you accept that he's a "product" -- which he is -- it's amazing how life-like and realistic he is. Then, there's the technical aspect -- he's got sensors all over his body so he can interpret touch and "feel" his environment. Plus he's sporting a half-dozen cameras -- in his eyes, his snout and likely elsewhere. Watching him shuffle along in my apartment is a trip; he basically looks around, listens, howls in response or to get attention, and he cruises around -- albeit slowly -- in a pretty amazing manner.
But the best is watching Kaia get him to sing -- it's almost enough to delete our wanting to get a pooch and a kitten...almost.
Though, the key factor, of course, is Pleos don't poop.
The other issues of the day -- work, schedules, Kaia heading home, cable/home theater issues and Willie Randolph's classless dismissal by the New York Mets -- are all secondary. They'll all be there again and again, one way or the other.
But getting a Pleo is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. No, I'm not entranced by the magical, mythical bond between man and machine (if you have a spare Ferrari GTO, let me know so I can qualify that last statement). Nor am I pretending to be a father to a rubber-covered animatronic toy. What does really blow me away is that every time I watch the little guy cruise around my place in and of his own volition it reminds me of Star Wars -- how robots and droids are doing their own thing, floating around (sometimes literally) in their own little world(s) and in some small way, Pleo reminds me of what might someday be. If not Star Wars, perhaps then the (crappy) Tom Selleck-Gene Simmons movie "Runaway" -- in which robots and droids cohabitate (with less-than-wonderful results) among man. We may have a long way to go, but the fact is this little guy may represent that first step, and if nothing else, watching him do his thing, and hearing the sounds coming out of him, is a trip. And more importantly, never fails to get us to smile.
Which is a pretty big achievement in and of itself.