There’s always been something strange about February. Sure, I can understand the need for a month that enjoys an extra day every fourth year (except every hundredth year [except every fourth hundredth year]). But why 28 and 29 days when all the rest have 30 or 31? Would it not be fairer to take the 31st day from December and January and give them to February? Then all three would be 30 days long, except in leap years, when February had 31.

I’m not saying this weirdness directly accounts for the mysterious return of my old photo on this page (unless it’s mysteriously flipped back — oh, look at that: it flipped back again). I don’t know what’s going on with my site. It seems to have developed a mind of its own. The robots may be stirring. We have them cleaning dust from under our beds, and they are beginning to IM each other and their cousins, the servers and routers and controls on your dishwasher . . . and I’m just saying you should keep a watchful eye.

John Dicks: ‘I’m a proud owner of a Roomba! My wife rolled her eyes and my dog barked at it . . . but now even the two of them have accepted the little robot into our home. It works quite well (better than me) and the dog thinks it is there for her personal amusement.’

Kathi Derevan: ‘I have one. I thought they looked kind of cool, but assumed they were wacky toys that really wouldn’t work. But then I visited a friend and saw one in action, and found out, yes, they DO work. I find I still need a ‘normal’ vacuum too, but the Roomba is not a toy, and does some things a regular vac won’t, like go under the bed and couch. And, I am vacuuming RIGHT NOW. How cool is that?’

Glenn Hudson: ‘My wife bought one about a month ago. We were concerned it wouldn’t do the job since we had bought a similar product from Sharper Image that didn’t work very well. We have a long-haired dog that sheds. As the thing vacuums, the hair twists up around the brush. With the Sharper Image version, eventually the dog hair was too much and it would just stop vacuuming. With the Roomba, the dog hair still gets wrapped up in the brushes, but it continues to pick up quite a bit of dirt. It’s kind of neat how it can find its recharging dock after vacuuming at the far end of the house. If you’ve got the extra money, a house or apartment that isn’t littered with obstacles that prevent the Roomba from manipulating its way around, we recommend it.’

John Peterson: ‘Is it worth it? Probably not if you only consider cleaning floors. Should you buy one? Absolutely yes – and give one to everyone you know. (To be fair, I have been waiting for this product ever since I read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury in high school (a long time ago). That book has robotic mice that do the vacuuming.) The first generation ones that I bought, for myself and parents and parents-in-law, are kinda like running a Dustbuster randomly around the floor, so the cleaning is OK . . . but don’t expect too much. Newer ones may be better. It also makes enough noise to be irritating to some in the household, so running it while you are away is best. They are great fun at nursing homes. The residents love to see them run around and clean the room. Drop one on a table in a high school class and suddenly all of the kids want to know why it does not fall off the edge. A sudden interest in science and engineering! Anyway – the overarching reason to buy these is to encourage more and better devices like this so that we can all quit doing chores. I am hoping for [a bed maker] next.


In isolation, this is a small story. (Park your car on federal property with a pro-war bumper sticker and you’re okay; with anti-war stickers . . . maybe not.) Some, though, will see it as part of a larger story.


This is a bipartisan effort to prevent one party in an evenly divided state from seizing all the power. (Guess who’s likely to oppose it.)


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