April 24, 2004

Technical difficulties experienced. It was a morning of minor technical difficulties.

The Charter cable internet access was down again, so I couldn't get to my blog quickly with my laptop open on the dining table next to my New York Times and my coffee. I noted bloggable ideas on a Post-It, as I used to do before I got the high-speed access. Then I used my dial-up access and learned something that I'll try to put to good use. I knew I was putting up a lot of photos yesterday. It was that sort of a happening day, what with the Sexual Health Festival, The Madhatters, Ernie & Roger, and it being Shirley Temple's birthday and all. And still hanging around on the not-yet-archived first page were all the many photos taken last Saturday in the best photo-op in Madison ever, the 9 Beet Stretch. And then there was that day I walked to Dancing Grounds and took pictures of the neighborhood flowering trees along the way.... Needless to say, the page loaded slowly. So I'll try to be a little more careful, within a given front-page span, not to put too many pictures up. And yet... I liked that new idea of recapping a film with photos, every one of which was justified. Oh, really? Even the blur of Reagan--or Reagan's double--diving into the river? Why, yes, emphatically! And that was Reagan. And Reagan caught pneumonia diving repeatedly into the river, and it left him hospitalized at a time when Jane Wyman went into premature labor and gave birth to a baby that soon died. The marriage never recovered, I read, from that harsh separation in time of direst need. So that dive changed the entire history of the world, didn't it?

I also set Roomba, the robot vacuum cleaner, to try its ... uh ... hand at my living room. I set a row of thick candles to block the entry to the fireplace, which was full of ashes, and tucked the rug fringe under according to instructions, and I draped the curtains up over the radiator and closed all three sets of French doors (which I like to call "freedom doors"). I go back to my newspaper and Roomba is making its little electronic sound that means "I have a problem." Well, it's one thing after another. Tucking the fringe under made a bump that Roomba got stuck on. Untucking the fringe led to some nasty tangling. Roomba got stuck under a chair. Roomba started up the slanted base of a floor lamp and couldn't figure out what to do. One thing that didn't stop Roomba was the line of candles I foolishly believed would keep it out of the fireplace: a trail of ashes had been dragged across the rug when I wasn't supervising. Oh, but the instructions said to supervise Roomba the first time you do a room. But this thing is supposed to save time. And just the task of tucking the fringe under took longer than old fashioned vacuuming! Yeah, but you have to drag out the vacuum cleaner. I have to drag out the Roomba. The worst thing about the Roomba, though, is that long hair (like mine) gets coiled around the brush axle, and I have to wield a Phillips screwdriver to detach the brush and remove the axle-braking hair after every use. Conclusion: much more work than an old-fashioned vacuum cleaner. I'd love to have more robots for housework and yardwork, but they need to be much better!

Roomba did provide some amusement, like when my son imitated its blind idiocy as it bumped into objects and picked another direction setting it into an eccentric zigzagging path that would take forever to actually find every spot in the room. And when my other son said, "Every time I hear the word Roomba, I think of the line 'Do you rhumba? Pick a rhumba from one to ten.'" (And if you know what movie that's from you will enjoy this trivia test. Hmmm.... Mrs. Claypool's first name was Fluffy!)

End of my exposition of the morning's technical difficulties. I'm now at the café, using the wireless access here, and watching the folks stroll by on State Street. It's the first Saturday of the Farmer's Market and there's a big race, called Crazylegs, that will be snaking all over the town. I saw all the traffic barriers that I expect to find blocking many of the roads I'd intended to use on the way home. But it's all just fine. It's a cool but lovely Saturday, the last weekend of the semester. Ah! Here come the runners!

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