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I’ve outsourced my duties as Official Floor Cleaner to Rosie, a Roomba 770 we named after the robotic maid on The Jetsons. With two cats, keeping the fur balls under control is a full-time job. Rosie is temperamental, but our floors are definitely cleaner now.
The Roomba does best with frequent, small cleaning jobs. Rosie is scheduled to clean everyday, usually when we’re out of the house. It has no problem handling hardwood floors and carpet, although it does a better job on the carpet, and excels at getting into tight spaces. It’s frightening how much dust and dirt it found under our bed.
I had hoped it would keep the floors clean when we were gone on vacation, but it needs daily attention. The dust bin is small and has to be emptied after almost every run. When we first ran the Roomba, it collected so much dust we had to empty it mid-run. Every week or two, I take it apart to remove all the hairs that become tangled in its rollers. Not a lot of work, but not fuss-free either.
I’m impressed with how well constructed and engineered the Roomba is. It feels like it’s designed to last and be easily repaired. I’m less impressed with the artificial intelligence. I thought it would slowly learn the layout of our apartment, but it seems to bump around in the same chaotic way today as it did on its first run. Our dining room table has become Rosie’s nemesis. She spends a lot of her time caught between between the chair legs, just wide enough for her to squeeze between before becoming trapped. She often bumps around for 10-15 minutes before frustration (or the robot equivalent) sets in and she goes back to her dock defeated.
We’ve gotten better at Roomba-prooofing the house before we leave in the morning. Often, we’ve come home to find Rosie impaled on a towel or entangled on a cord we left lying on the floor. The best was when she snagged the cord for the blinds and pulled herself a few inches off the floor. Luckily the Roomba is smart enough to know when its stuck and will shutdown before causing permanent damage.
Rosie has worked so well at cleaning up after the cats, we’ve experimented using robots to play with them too.
My wife and I’s first camping trip together was to a little forestry campsite just north of Squamish. I have fond memories of that trip. I remember a tranquil lake, quiet isolated sites, and cooking great food over a campfire. One of the best car camping experiences (well almost, you have a short hike to the sites), I’ve had in BC and no reservation needed. We’ve been hoping to go back for years and finally made the trip last weekend.
Either memories can be deceiving, I’m getting old and grumpy, or Cat Lake has changed. Judging from what I wrote about Cat Lake on August 30, 2006, it was a party destination then, but it seemed more extreme this time:
The best features, though, were the lake and privacy of each site. The lake had some small beach areas, and people would float these giant trees into the centre of the lake and use them as docks, diving boards, and log rolling venues. The camp sites were nestled between hills and trees and very spaced out. On one side we had a group playing loud music and on the other a bunch of drunk girls. But at our site we could barely hear them.
Maybe they’ve crammed in more sites, but I didn’t find quiet campsites. When a group decided to go skinny dipping at 2 am on Friday night, they woke me up on the other side of the lake (noises seemed to carry more over the water than between camp sites). I was ready to take an axe to the guy screaming “stop looking at my dick, the water is cold”. There was also a fire ban prevented any campfire cooking.
The lake is still great for swimming – a perfect temperature and crystal clear. The floating logs are still there and great to play on, but inflatable rafts now outnumbered them.
This was a typical campsite – a giant tent, trash and empty beer cans littered around, and food left out to attract wildlife. It bothered me. I must be getting old and grumpy. I love camping and we still had a good time, but I wish more people could enjoy the experience without getting high, stupidly drunk, and making asses of themselves.
I can’t believe how many people cycle along the narrow shoulders of the Sea-to-Sky highway. A foam helmet and a narrow rumble strip seem inadequate for protection from the cars passing at 100 km/h. Plus the shoulders are littered with rocks and tire-puncturing debris (you see a lot of cyclists patching flats). There’s obviously a demand for long distance cycling in BC, the thousands who ride the Gran Fondo from Vancouver to Whistler every year are evidence enough of that. Too bad the infrastructure sucks.
I’ve never gotten into long-distance cycling (something about the tight shorts and expensive bikes). The longest ride I’ve logged on Strava is 8.7 km, although I’m sure I’ve gone farther than that. If there were separated bike routes, like they have in Europe, I would be tempted to give it a go. Until then, I’ll stick with biking for commuting and running for recreation.
Photo taken in the Netherlands by Jeroen de Jongh
There are so many things to love about Montreal
For only $15, I picked up a 3-day BIXI pass and used it to zoom around the city. I was impressed with how quickly the bikes turned over. Bikes were constantly being taken out and returned by users – a lot of them locals judging by how quickly they unlocked the bikes and pedalled away. The bikes are heavy and slow, but still way faster than walking and more interesting than taking the metro.
The separated bike lanes downtown are good (especially around the universities), but the real highlight was the network of separated lanes along commercial streets in the neighbourhoods around downtown, like the Plateau (think Commercial Drive in Vancouver).
There is also a good network of bike routes on quiet streets, salmon lanes against the traffic on 1-way streets, and trails along parks and train tracks. They even have cleaners ensuring the bike routes are free of glass and debris.
Vancouver has some catching up to do.
Rand Paul recently penned an excellent op-ed in Time Magazine arguing against the militarization of police forces. It reminded me of the email I got from Rand Paul last month. It was sent to me in error and it had a very different tone. It urged me to sign up defend America’s gun rights. For only $10/month I could be “automatically entered into the FRONTLINE DEFENDERS monthly gun giveaway to win a Remington Versa Max 12-gauge shotgun with Realtree camo. Each month we give away a new gun. It could be an AR-15. It could be special high-end handguns, shotguns or hunting rifles.“
I agree with Rand Paul that turning local police forces into small armies is a bad idea. But I’m not sure how giving ordinary citizens (especially the paranoid ones) camoflauge, shotguns, automatic riffles, and ammo is any better. In fact, it sounds a lot worse.