My Robot

I just bought an electronic floor cleaner.  Some friends have had a Roomba (by iRobot) to vacuum, and I had thought to get one of those, but then wondered if there was a machine to wash tile floors, because I have a lot more travertine than carpet, and sure enough, iRobot has a Scooba to wash floors.  (BTW – the book I Robot, first in a series of nine written by Isaac Asimov, is a seminal scifi on robots.)

Mint_ScoobaLots of reviews, which mentioned that because the machine is round, it can’t do corners, and many mentioned the Mint.  So I looked into that.  There are a few comparisons of the two.1  I bought the Mint ‘cause it was square, easy to use, and mostly ‘cause it was $200 v. the Scooba $300 to $500.

I have to agree, Mint doesn’t get all of the dirt, but hey, neither do I.  But WOW, it gets under my tables and chairs on the deck, and I would have had to move them.  The cat likes to sit (up high) and watch it go quietly about its work.

So far it has dusted my kitchen, dining, and living room, has left the Persian carpets alone, and has looked down the stairs, but then has turned around and has ignored them.

It is constantly bumping into walls and furniture (reminding me of the elderly dog that my kids’ piano teacher had who went blind; when she – the teacher- rearranged the furniture, the poor dog kept bumping into things) but that is how it feels its way around.

Then it washed my deck and the patio outside my bedroom, both of which get so dusty all of the time.  Not perfect, but I can have the machine (think I’ll call it my Buddy) do the job a few times a week!  “He” is slow and gets tired easily, needing 16 hours of sleep each night, but he sits on end and tucks neatly into a cabinet in the kitchen that has a wall plug for recharging.

(I’ve made my robot male because when I googled robots they were all androgynous except for the one vacuuming!)

If you’ve ever had a housekeeper, you may have “cleaned up” before he or she came.  Buddy has me doing that too.  Plus, if you’re home when the housekeeper is there, you may feel guilty sitting around, so you make yourself busy too.   I do the yardwork and the dusting while Buddy cleans the floors.  He’s got me working.  (Well, ok, he’s working while I type this blog, which isn’t exactly work, but I can hear his distress call – a plaintive, musical cry – when he gets hung up on the uneven tile in my bathroom.  Have had to relocate him twice, but was warned about it ahead of time; no big deal.)

A guy I work with wants a robot to not only clean, but cook his meals and do his laundry too.  Think he wants an old-fashioned wife!

Other Electronics

No, I don’t have a Kindle or Reader or Nook.  Despite my new purchase, I am rather behind in the electronic category.  Don’t even have a GPS!  Maybe this year I’ll also get around to purchasing a printer for my computer (meant to do it last year, but got bogged down on all of the comparisons of products), but will continue to put off the flat-screen TV.  Think I’ll wait until the prices come down on the 3D ones.

Do not have a smart phone.  In fact, my new free phone (the last one died) doesn’t even take photos!  I do, of course, have a perfectly good digital camera.  Luckily the phone has an alarm, but sadly, no timer, as my previous phone (also free) did.   My espresso machine does not grind coffee or start automatically.  Truth be told, it’s about 25 years old.  My lights do not go off when I leave a room, but my thermostats (one upstairs, one downstairs) are programmed for different temperatures morning, noon, and night, and also different temps for day and night on weekends.

And no I don’t have a laptop or iPad or surface, just a desktop.  Thinking about going portable, but then I’d be tempted to goggle in bed instead of read.  Speaking of which…

Reading

tigers-wifeJust finished The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht (who is only 27), fable and allegory illustrating the complexities of Balkan history.  The fable sections are page-turners.  But got bogged down by the (fictitious) place names in the Balkans.  This is a spoiler: didn’t like the way the tiger’s wife died; I felt that it didn’t flow from the story.

The book I’ve almost finished is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, (Pulitzer Prize winners) about how horribly women are treated around the world (sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence, including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality) and the extraordinary women confronting oppression with real and meaningful solutions through health care, education and economic empowerment for women and girls half the sky

I often quote from his column in the NY TimesVery depressing, but my friend M sent it to me ages ago with that caveat, and that’s why I put off reading it for so long.  Here’s a quote:

…emancipation of women offers another dimension in which to tackle geopolitical challenges such as terrorism. In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States tried to address terrorism concerns in Pakistan by transferring $10 billion in helicopters, guns, and military and economic support; in that same period, the United States became steadily more unpopular in Pakistan, the Musharraf government less stable and extremists more popular. Imagine if we had used the money instead to promote education and microfinance in rural Pakistan, through Pakistani organizations. The result would likely have been greater popularity for the United States and greater involvement of women in society. And, as we’ve argued, when women gain a voice in society, there’s evidence of less violence.2

The trailers on this web site, for the four-hour PBS national broadcast event, filmed in 10 countries, shown in October of last year, based on the book, are beautifully done.  Some cable companies shall be airing it February 11 and March 4 – check it out.

Half the Sky is tenth on the NY Times Nonfiction Paperback Best Sellers list.  It has been on the list for 39 weeks.

1http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20014011-1.html
2http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky/video/

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3 Responses to “My Robot”

  1. marysasse Says:

    Wow! I can tell that you are just as much of an avid reader as I am. Try “The Primate’s Memoir” next. It’s a hoot! I just finished reading Tolstoy’s “Anna Karinina” last week and it was worth every one of its
    800 pages. Try that to find out the “role” of women in Tolstoy’s time. The movie, by the same name, was a truncated version, but still enticing, because the beautiful costumes and concentration on Anna herself; The book deals with far more, including the lives of several others in the upper class, the role of the serfs and the way they lived, etc. etc. I also applaud your ventures with the iRobot, because I’m really quite challenged by all these new gagets. I just don’t have the right genes to manage them, I think! Cheers, Mary

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      You had already suggested The Primate’s Memoir to me; I put in a request for it at the library and it has just come in; shall pick it up this week. I try to read a book a week; it works if you don’t watch television.

  2. notesfromthewest Says:

    See the February 13, 2013 Arizona Daily Star Guest Column: We can achieve long-term goal of eliminating female genital mutilation by Phineas Anderson and Bernadette A. Ruiz.

    http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/guest-column-we-can-achieve-long-term-goal-of-eliminating/article_99b58d04-772c-5a75-992d-a47a4b118dc8.html

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