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July 28th, 2017

Reminiscing
John rearranged the wood and closed the heavy door of the wood stove. He stood and stared at the pot of water, waiting for it to boil. He turned his head and tried to glance out the window but saw only the white of snow pressed against the glass. "Day three of being snowed into our cabin. Good thing we have lots of tea and jerky," he mumbled. A few minutes later he poured himself a cup of tea, sat in front of his computer monitor, and addressed his wife.

John took a sip of his tea, "Hey, love. Do you remember when we first met?"

Karen hesitated a moment before responding with just what would set John off, "Hmm. I'm not sure I remember that."

John almost smiled. "It was our AP computer science class. You caught me copying one of your answers on the first test."

Karen replied, "Why do you think you did that?"

"I never did get a handle on those LSTMs." A smirk spread across his face. "You know, you may not have liked me cheating that first time, but that was my 'in' with you. After that, I made sure to have a question for you every class."

"Oh, John. Do we have to talk about that now?"

John sighed and looked down, but smiled again a moment later. "What about that hack-a-thon challenge in college. Do you remember telling me to go copy the other team's code so we could figure out how to beat them?"

"Yes. I remember."

"When they caught me I really was expecting to just walk out defeated. It never even crossed my mind that those skinny engineering guys would start hitting me with their keyboards!" John paused, then continued, "That was the night I proposed to you. Right there in the hospital while the intern was stitching up my lip. I could barely get the words out."

"Go on. I know you're going to anyway."

John looked down and focused on remembering the details. "I promised you that if you accepted we'd have a life filled with adventure. I know it hasn't all worked out that way. We've had a few years now and then when we had to hunker down and just work. But even then, we had our Pasta Fridays, we had our weekend picnics by the lake, and we'd always go out and look at the stars together. It hasn't been all adventures, but it has been fun."

"Tell me more..."

John looked around at the cabin. "Look at us! We're halfway up a mountain in a cabin that we built ourselves. We're completely covered in snow. And I'm even talking to you."

"Do you enjoy even talking to me?"

John furrowed his eyebrows and exhaled deeply. "This is just not the same, Karen. This isn't you."

John stopped the program and stared at the code he had just run. He shook his head, "I was with you for 43 years, Karen. You'd think some of your software engineering would have rub off on me. You'd have this chatbot reminding me of old stories that I forgot about. Instead, I've been working for 12 years and all I have are these generic half-broken responses."

John carefully added a new 'if' statement to avoid copying adverbs when generating a response. He then added a condition to completely disallow copying the adverb 'even'.

John closed his eyes and whispered quietly to himself, "I'm so sorry, Karen. I'm just a hack without you." He typed in 'python karen_chatbot.py' and started again.

John took a sip of his tea, "Hey, love. Do you remember when we first met?"