Va-va-va Roomba! Now that’s cleaning |

Va-va-va Roomba! Now that’s cleaning

Scientists in Massachusetts have invented a better mousetrap, and I, for one, am beating a path to their laboratory. It’s the Roomba, a vacuum cleaner they say looks like a bathroom scale.

I think it looks like a miniature UFO. And like a UFO, it hovers over your carpet, sucking life forms from the depths below and probing them before they return them back to Earth. No, wait! That’s the family dog.

To get the Roomba to “spring into action,” the would-be vacuumer selects a room size: studio closet built for 14 snowboarders, starter trophy home or cathedral. The Roomba starts on its mission – and what else would it be but a mission? – by rotating in a tight circle then roaming back and forth across the room sucking up everything in its path.

It’s flat, so it can reach under couches and find long-lost pornography and coins, features a brush that flings cookie crumbs away from the edges of walls and has a “drop-off” detector that prevents it from flinging itself off the top stairs. If you need to confine to one room because you don’t want it running off to enjoy a drink on the deck, you can put up the “virtual wall unit” that fools it into thinking there’s a wall in its way.

In tests, Roomba left behind a few flecks of dirt. But its little brain remembers this and usually doubles back to get them.

I need a vacuum cleaner like the Roomba, mostly because it has a cool name.

I believe it would be a useful tool because I remember the house I lived in before I panicked and fled to another state.

The day I moved into that house, I knew I was in trouble – primarily because all I could see was bright orange shag carpet. I took a vacuum to it before I moved in any furniture, and filled up three vacuum bags before the vacuum engine up and quit, saying it wouldn’t work for such poor wages any longer.

It’s tough to get good help these days.

I learned to live with the orange shag carpet – not that I liked it.

We lost a kitten in it one year. Another time, something – perhaps the kitten – crawled up out of the carpet and ate a burrito. Many friends would leave their small children at home when they came to visit. And all this time I thought it was my breath.

The final straw came after I cleaned out the closet in which the water heater lurked. The previous renters noticed that the water heater leaked, and to stop the flow, they shoveled kitty litter under the apparatus. I found these mounds of wet kitty litter while cleaning out the closet and, shovel by shovel, unloaded the stuff into the foundation of our neighbor’s unbuilt home. Haha! Just kidding. I actually dumped it in the creek.

Two days later, one of the cats threw up on the carpet just outside the water heater closet door. I cleaned it up.

A few days later, one of the cats threw up again. Same cat-place, same cat-time.

I thought the coincidence was a bit of a stretch, so armed with a can of Lysol and a clothespin on my nose, I leaned way over to investigate. It wasn’t puke; it was – THIS IS FOR REALS! – a mushroom.

Without the kitty litter absorbing the water leaking from the hot water heater, our house was quickly becoming a tropical swamp. I expected a crocodile to crawl out from under the stove. But we moved before the croc egg hatched. I haven’t heard much from the folks who moved in after us.

So, suffice it to say, I have learned the value of a good vacuum cleaner.

I’ve warned my family to hide the cats and grab their valuables.

Roomba’s on the loose.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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