My Enemy, My Friend: The Scooba and Roomba

Official Manner of Forcing Scooba to Clean.  It doesn't work so well.I have had a Roomba for about six months now and it has made my life a lot easier. I have a rabbit and two cats that shed fur as a hobby, so as much as I should probably vacuum daily, I…don’t. Then came my Roomba. I have it scheduled to run daily and my home has become a lot cleaner. I still have to vacuum occasionally but the level of cleanliness of my home has definitely elevated.

My house has an open floor plan and it all needs to be vacuumed. The Roomba simply cannot do a good job on all rooms, hence the daily vacuuming needed. I want one on each level of my house for daily pet hair duty. I have considered buying not only a Roomba for the lower level carpeting, but also an extra Roomba for the upstairs and using a virtual wall to split the house. After I realized I’m not made of money, I just learned to live with the fact that the Roomba almost never finds its home base and I have to put its carcass to recharge. No big deal since I have to empty the bin anyway. I have a sick joy in emptying the bin and knowing I didn’t have to vacuum.

I was so happy with Roomba that I advertised it to my parents. Even though they have a weekly cleaning person, the Roomba runs in their home nearly every day and they love emptying the bin and seeing how effective the Roomba is.

I received the Scooba as a thank-you gift from my parents. It’s only been a couple of days, but I’m telling you that it’s love-hate. Reviews I’d read said that the only drawback is that it’s slow. True, but who cares?? I can go watch an episode of Heroes and not even have to hear the thing. Plus, playing with a gadget is much more fun than scrubbing, no?

I filled the tank, using the Clorox cleaner included in the correct ratio. Luckily my 5800 also works with vinegar/water or plain water. I’ve read complaints that the older models and the 5900 require the expensive and eco-unfriendly cleaner. I found these complaints because I did a quick search for “check tank error.” You know why…because my Scooba refused to start, claiming the tank was not seated properly. After a twenty minute battle and two internet searches, I finally made it work. Twelve minutes into the cleaning cycle, it
again gave the error. I attached and detached the tank twice and it finally went along.

I used the thing again today and it worked at first, but gave an error after about 30 minutes of cleaning. I think this is unacceptable and I will be exchanging the Scooba for an identical robot. If the new robot has the same issue, I will have to fire Scooba and *groan* scrub on my hands and knees again.

I was very pleased to see the comprehensive customer support answers to my questions, but I have a nagging doubt that the Scooba might just be too delicate to do its job properly.

Down with Elmo: Cruelty to Goldfish Dorothy

Cruelty to GoldfishPlease be prepared, as this is going to be an angry rant.

I love Sesame Street.  I love its multiculturalism, its learning opportunities, and its special place in my heart.  However, I’m pretty upset with one thing about the otherwise adorable Elmo: his goldfish.

In each episode, a baby goldfish is housed in a bowl.  They stick all kinds of stuff in the bowl and who knows if they’ve bothered to see if it will be toxic to the fish.  I’ll bet that “Dorothy??? has died numerous times of the torture of the goldfish bowl.

You see, goldfish bowls are terrible for the poor fish forced to live there.  Goldfish are thick-bodied fish who eat a lot and produce a LOT of waste.  A goldfish in a bowl quickly pollutes the water.  The fish is then forced to breathe its own concentrated waste.  If you think that bowl smells bad above water, imagine trying to breathe below the surface.

Goldfish need a lot of water per fish.  There are lots of good sources  for goldfish information, and they all say pretty much the same thing.  Baby goldfish- the kind you see in the pet store- require at least TEN gallons of water per fish.  Most fish bowls contain half a gallon or less.  As they grow- to over four inches long with very high body mass- they need THIRTY gallons per fish.

You may argue that you have a goldfish in a bowl or tiny aquarium for a year or more and it hasn’t grown, so that’s OK, right?  That’s because the poor fish has had its growth stunted by living in such small quarters.  If that doesn’t somehow seem cruel to you, imagine buying a Saint Bernard puppy and keeping it in a two foot by two foot crate, never letting the poor guy out, and only cleaning his messes once a week or so.

Goldfish never belong in a bowl.  I can’t believe a socially responsible show like Sesame Street would do something so cruel.  I know of several moms who, with best intentions, have bought goldfish in bowls for their Elmo-loving kids.  The pet store employees have either hidden the truth or were ignorant to the facts of these wonderful pets.

Goldfish live a long time.  If you think keeping a fish in a bowl for a couple of years is a success, it isn’t.  Non-fancy varieties live to be teenagers or older.  Fancies, such as double tails, black moors, and lionheads can live to be 30!  Again, think of owning a kitten and it dies in a year or two.  Does that sound like the right lifespan for a cat?

If your kid wants a “Dorothy??? like Elmo, there are three good options.  First, buy a small aquarium and house a few fish that are gold in color but aren’t goldfish.  A ten-gallon aquarium with two or three gold-color Mickey Mouse platys will bring a lot of joy to your child.  Second, if a full-size aquarium is simply out of your budget, buy a bowl of a gallon or more and house two or three White Cloud Mountain Minnows and a nice growth of Java Moss, but no gravel (for easy cleaning).  Last, if all of this sounds too difficult, don’t buy any fish.  Aquaria are an addition to your household chores and lives are at stake.

Finally, I don’t blame the people who want the goldfish bowls.  I blame the pet stores and irresponsible employees who promote goldfish in a bowl. 

Mostly, I blame Elmo for marketing goldfish in a bowl to children.  It is cruel, irresponsible, and unnecessary.