In which our intrepid hero wakes up.

Neither Mim K/W nor I handle mornings particularly well, and this morning was only exceptional by degree.

It all began as I awoke at 5.58AM—two minutes before my alarm was due to go off. I proudly laid back, congratulating myself at the exactitude of my circadian rhythms or whatever. I have the alarm set to some obscure classical music station, and as the first chords emanated from its speakers, Mim—still snoring lightly—reached up and switched it off.

I wandered downstairs to get myself some breakfast and some clothes for the day. Switching the kettle on, I wandered into the bathroom, my copy of Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things in hand. As I scanned the lines of the introduction, nothing really registered even in my short-term memory—instead, the words “the qualities of Mister Chicken” repeated in my head.

When I emerged—mystified as to whom this Mister Chicken might be, let alone what qualities he may possess—Mim was comfortable ensconced on the couch, happily browsing the Net. It seemed like her internal monologue might be working, so she wasn’t too much asleep; she probably woke when I got up. (Either that, or it was all the furniture I knocked over, following the furniture-free path from the bedroom to the kitchen. My navigation skills go out the window when I’m tired.)

With only a few stammered sentences, I asked her if she’d like a cuppa. (My verbal skills go, too.) Normally, she drinks coffee, so I was mildly startled when she asked for tea; this was fortunate, as if she’d asked for coffee, I probably would’ve forgotten by the time I reached the kitchen.

I pulled two cups off the rack, awake enough by now to notice that they were both Macquariecon mugs and wandered over to the kettle, which had long since boiled. I flicked its switch again, popped teabags in the cups and very nearly put two teaspoons of non-dairy creamer in each cup instead of sugar.

Now, I remember seeing a show on robotics when I was a kid, and they said that feedback and error-handling systems were terribly difficult to program at the time. I suppose they’ve fixed that by now, but it was still a problem for me this morning.

Imagine that an algorithm for placing sugar in a mug goes something like this:

  1. Insert teaspoon in sugarpot.
  2. Withdraw teaspoon from sugarpot.
  3. If teaspoon is heaped with sugar then position teaspoon over mug and twist until sugar falls into mug; else, go to 1.
  4. Repeat as necessary until desired sugar is transposed from sugarpot to mug.

Simple enough, yes? Well, not if you insert (and withdraw) the teaspoon vertically, and are too fatigued to figure out why there’s no sugar in it when you pull it out. It took me several minutes to work that one out.

I need more sleep. Either that, or they need to start putting instructions on teaspoons.