Practical Goldberg Part 1 by Jerry Guarino

David, a computer science major in college, was completing the setup of his new bird feeding system.  Instead of the usual tree house, painted with bright colors, he had designed a more elegant solution.  Altruism aside, he wanted to do more than just provide food for birds in the bad weather; he wanted to see the birds enjoy their treat while keeping squirrels from squandering the seeds.

So he set up a trough with three lids, mechanically operated based on a computer program.  The first container had birdseeds and suet, the second fruit and nuts and the third meat scraps and insects.  In front of the trough was a bar that activated a 13” LCD screen when the bird landed on it.  On the screen was a picture of the three food types, corresponding to the placement of the trays.  The bird would peck at the screen and a touch sensor would open the appropriate food tray.  If the bird didn’t peck, a camera would snap a picture of the bird and open the tray that species of bird prefers.  To complete the environment, audio/video of like birds would play from the LCD.

But what about the bane of bird feeders, squirrels?  The locked trays prevented them from eating.  If a squirrel pressed the landing bar, the camera would snap a picture of the offender, then play a 3D video, complete with sound of foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls and snakes eating squirrels.  The longer the squirrel stayed there, the more graphic the video progressed.  Last but not least, a small spray of that predator’s scent would shoot onto the squirrel’s leg (don’t worry, it washed away in the next rain).  Needless to say, most squirrels never returned to the bird feeder.

No matter where David was, he could enjoy the feeder.   A second, wireless camera sent a signal to the Internet so he could watch from any computer.  He even wrote an app so he could watch the action from his cell phone.  Why all the work to feed birds?  David discovered that this was 100% effective in meeting women, especially when showing it off at a coffee house or party.  Rube would have been proud!


About the Author:

Jerry Guarino writes short stories (  “Practical Goldberg” was selected for initial publication by Eskimo Pie. He is also a teacher, cook and junk food critic.   His stories include The Devil’s Orchestra, 30 Minutes of Hell, Bird on a Camera, Coq a Doodle Do, The Duke of Yelp, The Grand Poobah, Pie or Die, Practical Goldberg Part 1, Practical Goldberg (A Love Story in 3 Parts), Preheat the and The Tightrope.  His work has appeared in, 6 Tales, Bewildering Stories, The Chaffey Review Literary Magazine, Daily Love, Eskimo Pie, Leaning House Press, The Legendary, Piker Press, Postcard Shorts, Ray’s Road Review, The Scarlet Sound, Weirdyear, Writing Raw and Zouch Magazine and Miscellany. He is currently working on a murder mystery for the stage.

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