During the past month, Matthew and I moved into a palace. Literally. This house is a palace. True, the kitchen is in a state of flux. True, one bathroom is ripped apart and missing everything, including all things that make it a bathroom. True, another bathroom only has a cement floor. It is still a palace.
It has all kinds of palacy things. It has a pool, courtyards (notice the plural), palm trees, fruit orchards (ok, one orange tree), fountains, patios, and even a long, arching driveway. (Exaggeration. It’s actually a short, stubby driveway. But I’ve never had a driveway.)
And like all palaces in the ancient world, this palace has slaves.
Me. Matthew. And, the Roomba.
I never thought I’d enjoy home improvement. For the most part, my idea of home improvement is hanging a picture in my office. I’ve never liked power washing, building shelves, installing kitchens, stacking wood, digging landscaping, cutting grass, cleaning pools, or anything that requires triangulating angles and finding studs.
Unless they are the kind of studs found — well, wink, you know.
But an odd thing happened somewhere between power washing the patio and designing the shelving for the walk in closet. I like it. Not just a little. I like it a lot.
In the past few weeks, I’ve hung lights, shelves, fixed sliding glass doors, screens, cleaned
Who knew I could hang a light?!
everything, installed a bathroom (well, Matthew did this with Jay, but I did supervise), and even designed my very own billiard room.
I did mention it’s a palace. Every palace must have a billiard room. Just look on any Clue board.
And yesterday I bought my first 21st Century palace slave.
A Roomba. This little $700 bit of technology is supposed to go from room to room, vacuuming and cleaning, then return magically to it’s dock to recharge. And, for the most part, it does just that.
Except, in the vast halls of the palace, it keeps getting lost. I’m convinced I’m going to find it dead under the bed, in the center, where I have no hope of reclaiming it without major work. Something, by the way, this robot slave is supposed to save.
The marketing of the Roomba is amazing, and everyone — I mean EVERYONE — seems to love it.
And I like it, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not buying some of the marketing.
I don’t think it’s learning my home’s floor plan. Today I returned from bamboo shopping (another sentence I thought I’d never write in a million years), and the Roomba was having a hissy fit in the bathroom because it was stuck. Last night, it discovered the house is more than the master bed room, and seemed to sweep the hall way, the dining room, and then bits and pieces of other rooms before spinning in a circle, burping and passing out.
As for it’s millions of calculations that are supposed to take place in it’s computer brain to determine it’s course — I’m not buying it. It seems to simply bump along until it finds a spot it likes, and then it goes over and over and over that spot until it is clean. Then it goes over it some more and doesn’t quite know what to do, so it moves into another direction, before returning to the first spot and cleaning it even harder.
Here’s what I think. I think it’s a nifty little $700 gadget for sweeping under the coffee table. I think it’s brilliantly marketed. I think I could learn a lot about how the marketing is written for the little robot. Everyone assumes it is learning the floor plan of the house. But the actual marketing doesn’t SAY that.
“…Roomba cleans your floors like no vacuum has ever cleaned before – removing dirt, dust, pet hair and other debris all on its own. Using iAdapt® Responsive Navigation Technology, Roomba vacuums every section of your floor multiple times, getting under and around furniture and along wall edges, detecting dirt, avoiding stairs and navigating through loose wires to clean more of your room, more thoroughly…” is what it SAYS.
Notice the use of the words “floor” and “room”, not the words “house” or “palace”.
I’m too well invested at this point to return the robot. And, I’m secretly hoping it is really mapping my house. I’m thinking I need a Houseba. And, secretly, I’m still hoping I’ll come home and it will greet me:
“Hello, Dave. May I clean my spot today, Dave?”
“No, Houseba, please clean the living room.”
“I can’t do that….DAVE…”
Besides, I can’t return it. The cat loves it.
Do you know there are actually people who put fake grass on top of their Roomba so the cat can ride around? And, if read the FAQ of Roomba’s web site, there are actual questions about if the new model (which I bought) comes with fake grass. (It doesn’t. In fact, iRobot doesn’t recommend the whole fake grass accessory.) But what gets me is it’s in the FAQ: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. Do that many people really ask if the new Roomba 880 comes with fake grass for the cat?!
In a week and a half, Harry Homeowner time will end and I’ll be back on the road. First Washington, then New York City, then Chicago. Houseba will miss me, but I have a surprise for him:
He can vacuum his spot the whole time I’m gone.
The bamboo farm 2 miles from my house.
I was here while Houseba was trapped in the bathroom. There are only a few dozen in the US. Bamboo farms, not Housebas.
All palaces must have a moat with alligators on patrol.
I got even better at it. Hanging lights, I mean. I still suck as a Roomba owner.