Idle Hands, or how I am slowly building JARVIS

I am now back at work after taking some time off.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the “down-time,” my wife pointed out to me that I just cannot be idle.  Always looking for projects to work on, this time it was starting to get a little out of hand.  I added more sensors to my home automation, including a pair of Amazon Echo Dot devices.  Next, I also rewired a couple of light switches in the bathroom so the light and exhaust fan were on separate controls.  Since I was working on them, why not put them on smart switches, too?  Soon after, it was apparent that something was up with my home automation controller.  So I swapped that over to a Samsung Smartthings controller.

These projects just keep rolling into one another.  I have convinced myself that it is purpose-driven innovation, not laziness.  After all, it is a safety concern to walk downstairs with laundry and no ability to turn on the lights.  So let’s make them automatic!  But the same thing happens with the front door on Grocery day.  This one has not been solved yet, but I’m getting there.

I know many people see this as senseless, but how cool would it be to walk around the house and not touch light switches?   Make the lights automatically turn on, and then off again when I leave the room?  Or how about the exhaust fan in the bathroom, humidity is up after the shower is done running?  The fan will come on automatically to get rid of the moisture.  Strangest thing to come from these changes is the fact that my “future-thinking” of mounting an ipad in the wall is no longer necessary.  So it looks like I am going to have to prepare to patch that one soon.

End result is my home electronics are voice controlled now.  With a simple “Alexa…” followed by a command, lights and fans are turned on and off.  This is extremely useful when I am changing my son’s diaper.  But, how simple is it?  My 3 year-old is now using Alexa to turn on the bathroom light so he can brush his teeth or use the bathroom.  He is also learning he can ask Alexa to play songs like “The Wheels On the Bus!”  I just need to find a way to block Alexa from purchasing things on my Amazon account.

Anyway, enough electronics talk.  It is a funny story simply because my wife reminded me that I went through something similar when my first son was born.  When we had first brought Lukas home, I went around the house working on projects since I could not handle being idle.  We were still in the process of finishing our lower living room.  It started with a desire to replace wood paneling with drywall.  Then, since some of the carpet was ripped, I figured I’d replace carpeting with tile.  Then the ceiling tiles broke so I figured drywall that, too.  But wait, the ceiling is opened up so install that floor heating system.  Currently, the lower living room still does not have a completed ceiling.  Also, the door I built going into the basement needs to be replaced with an actual framed solution.

The reason I bring this up, however, is simply to think about the idea that I cannot be the only person that struggles with the whole “idle” part of life.  When I was in the Army, it was a very real joke that the motto should just be changed to “Hurry up and wait!”  It seemed that no matter what the event was, you hustle to get there then wait for things to happen.  Maybe I just can’t give myself time to do nothing, or maybe it is me compensating for all the work that my wife does with our children.  I don’t quite know, but having started two businesses, working a day job, and still trying to make my own little J.A.R.V.I.S. (from Iron Man) it seems that any time I have 2 minutes of free time I try to fill it with 10 minutes of work.

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