Tag Archives: Neato

Not a Book Review

ImageA few days have gone by without a Newbery or Printz contender review because, quite frankly, the last book I read was just not worthy. Watch it win now. Somehow I find it difficult to review books that I really didn’t like. Since I’ve met a bunch of authors at one point or another, I realize that they are real people with feelings, and I know I wouldn’t want some ignorant critic to stab me in the heart by trashing my cherished creation, especially if the critic had never written a book and therefore had no room to talk. Most writers are much more artistic and poetic than I am, so I always assume that I just don’t understand some earth-shattering insight that they have. On the other hand, it may just be a dreadful book, and in that case, why should I make you think you should read it? So, if you read a review on my blog, you can be assured that I believe that at least some of my readers would enjoy it. Otherwise, you’ll never hear about it from me. I am still reading madly, of course, and I plan to do another round-up article after just a few more reviews. My list has gotten longer, and I’ll share my updated predictions.

Shopping the Amazon Carts


My sister and I discovered recently that we both have a hobby that helps us to deal with being broke. We shop the Amazon carts. This is how it goes: You think of something you need or would like to have, and then log onto Amazon, which sells everything. You spend hours researching the very best product or deal, and then you put that item into your cart. Sometimes, I put my three favorite pairs of shoes into the cart, and then come back days later to compare them and look for more. We can move items into the “save for later” cart and rejoice that we’ve saved some money! Other needs come up, and we research those, sometimes putting them ahead of the items currently in the cart. We realize that our cart is too expensive, so we make choices about what to put in the current cart, what to put in the later cart, and even (ouch!) what to delete. Sometimes, in an extreme fit of hopefulness, we put things on our wish list so that other people can buy them for us. My sister confessed that she keeps a copy of her wish list on her hard drive, as well, just in case she forgets anything. Unbeknownst to one another, we found that we both do this at least once a week. This way, we can have all the satisfaction of shopping—finding nice things, comparing items, making choices—without ever spending a dime!

Wilbur, RIP; Long Live Wilbur II

ImageOur robot died. This is not as life-changing as having the rabbit die, but it does mean that our floors are not getting cleaned. When our Neato robot vacuum started making pitiful chirping sounds and telling us “My vision is blocked,” we tried all kinds of things to help. David cleaned every crevice he could, and we ordered new filters, but he remained helpless. Wilbur was blind. The good news is that when David called the Neato company and told them about it, they sent us a new one. Free. Postage paid. Good thing, because I had forgotten how to sweep with a broom, and David never even considered vacuuming by hand. We’ve decided to call the new robot Wilbur II, even though we felt downright heartless about it, as if you could just get rid of the robot you’ve known and loved and just get a new one. As if they were interchangeable. Actually, they are. We really need a dog.


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life's Travails- Big and Small

We Love Wilbur

ImageDavid and I had a problem. Vacuuming is one of David’s chores in our house, and since he is a big-time detail person, it took the whole day for him to move all the furniture and debris in order to vacuum. No quick once-overs for him. Furthermore, we bought our vacuum cleaner on Craig’s List, and it’s pretty weak and so heavy that it’s exhausting. Needless to say, he didn’t vacuum very often. I, on the other hand, like clean carpets, and that was definitely not happening on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation about housework with Kevin, our digital libraries manager.  There are two disconcerting points about that last sentence: 1) I was voluntarily having a conversation about housework, and 2) Kevin, as you may have guessed, is a guy. My mother would think that the universe was suddenly out of joint at that point, but I was quite delighted. It seems that Kevin and his wife divide up the household chores along much the same lines as David and I. Ashley does the laundry, as I do, and Kevin does the dishes, as David does. When I said that I dust and David vacuums, Kevin casually stated, “Oh, I have a robot do that for me.” I thought he was kidding, but no. He told me all about his Neato, a vacuuming robot that is light-years ahead of a Roomba, which I had heard of. The Neato has a laser that maps out the room and covers everything in an orderly manner, and it works on all floor surfaces. He assured me that it would not fall down the stairs, since it has a sensor for that. He said that Lynn, another person in his department, also had a Neato and loved it. I talked to her later, and she has the Pet and Allergy model, since her husband has allergies. Her Neato was home vacuuming even as we spoke!

I went online to Amazon and read all the reviews, then put a Pet and Allergy one in an order cart. Once David read about it, we decided to give it to each other for Mother’s and Father’s Day. Michael gave me a gift certificate toward the purchase, and we got it Tuesday! As you can see, it is a little smaller than the bottom of an upright vacuum cleaner, and it charges at a docking station that you plug in. When we first hooked it up to the base, a warm orange light began pulsing slowly to show that it was charging up. It looked so content, like a little piglet, that we decided to name it Wilbur. We had tried to name it before it arrived, but like all pets, you really have to see its personality before you can choose perfectly. David read the manual (he’s good at that) and programmed it to start up in the morning. When Wilbur woke up, he rolled into the middle of the room and twirled around, using the laser to map out the space. He then started methodically vacuuming the carpet, leaving perfect little tracks, and finished the living room before moving on to the kitchen. We had put the chairs up on the table, but he rolled around each table leg in turn before continuing his back-and-forth sweeping. His lasers keep him from hitting the furniture. When he went to go to the dining room, he felt a bit sluggish, so he zipped back to the base for a charge all by himself. This took a few maneuvers, rather like a new driver backing into a parking space. Once he was charged up, he went right back to where he left off and resumed his work. Awesome! He didn’t like the mats in front of the front door or at the bottom of the stairs, but he did a pretty decent job on them. Otherwise, carpet, hardwood, and vinyl all look great. He did the upstairs today.

David has Wilbur programmed to run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays downstairs, and Tuesdays and Thursdays upstairs. So we’re going from vacuuming oh, say, quarterly, to vacuuming daily! We may need to revise that schedule later. After all, you do have to make sure that you don’t have electrical cords lying on the floor or bedskirts and window treatments long enough to be sucked up. I also hear that they choke on dryer sheets. Cats and dogs have mixed reactions to them, apparently. One man online says that his cat enjoys stalking it, but will occasionally pounce. Kevin reports that his dog gets up on the sofa when the Neato runs, but will come down to rescue his toys if the Neato bumps into them. He also says that there are hilarious videos on YouTube with cats riding on Neatos. They’re probably warm.

So, anyway, after this long advertisement for which I am not even compensated, I can attest that our problem is solved! My carpets and floors are beautifully clean, and David never has to vacuum again! Well, except for the stairs— probably quarterly.

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Filed under Life's Travails- Big and Small, Men and Women