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Never Mind Astro, I Want Rosey

I couldn’t believe it was actually going to happen. Rosey the Robot was finally coming to life.

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the old cartoon series “The Jetsons”. There was George and Jane Jetson and their children Elroy and Judy, and one of my favourite characters on the series, Rosey, their personal robot maid.

I loved Rosey. She was like a sassy, no-nonsense aunt. “Beep! Beep! I may be homely, buster, but I am s-m-a-r-t, smart! Beep! Beep!” She didn’t take any baloney from anyone. But boy, could she clean their space house!

I always wanted a Rosey of my own. Who wouldn’t?

So when Amazon announced their new home robot Astro, I was beside myself with excitement. Finally! My own personal housecleaner.

I was imagining all of the things I would never have to do again. Scrub the toilet. Wash the kitchen floor. Dust and vacuum. Maybe Astro would even make my bed and prepare my favourite dinner. Wow.

I decided to watch Amazon’s introductory video, announcing Astro.

“What are we going to do with a robot?” the lady in the video asks her husband. Are you kidding me? I said that out loud. Housecleaning as we know it is now over!

“Astro, follow me,” the husband says.

I watched with great anticipation. Was he going to give Astro a toilet brush and put him right to work?

Astro followed him. Okay, so you can command him to follow you. Sort of like a dog.

That lead to another scene with a little girl talking to her grandmother through Astro’s video screen face.

I started wondering if the exciting stuff was still to come.

In yet another scene, a guy sitting on a park bench used his phone to give Astro the command to check and make sure that he turned the stove off at home.

Astro can relay text messages, re-charge itself, check the house for intruders, and play and dance to music. So basically a video camera that moves. And can catch a raccoon stealing your cupcakes.

At the very end, Astro brings the woman a beer on its tiny platter, and she declares “Alright, I’m in!”

Well, I’m not.

I already have a video doorbell. I can video chat with anyone I want using my phone or my tablet. And if I’ve accidently left the stove on, the fire department will surely let me know. As they’re dousing the flames.

I also have a man servant to bring me my wine. Begrudgingly, perhaps, but he’ll do it if I ask nicely.

I want a robot that can do the real work!

Who created Astro anyway? Let’s see. It can follow you like your dog, re-charge itself and bring you a beer. Was it a MAN?

Something I saw recently was an extract from a 1950s home economics book called “Tips To Look After Your Husband”. It’s filled with eye rolling suggestions for wives, like having dinner ready when he gets home. Preparing yourself and your children so you are presentable to him. Clearing away the clutter.

At the end of the article, it says “Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.” Cue another eye roll.

I have an idea. Let’s change that to “Your home robot will make your house a place of peace and order when you can renew yourself in body and spirit”. And instead of Astro, we’ll call our robot Rosey.

Alright, I’m in!

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Too Much Stuff

As the late comedian George Carlin once said “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” I was thinking about that awhile back on one of my daily walks, when I came across a whole lot of “stuff” spread out on someone’s front lawn and across the boulevard. There were old tools and pieces of metal and wood, boxes and other items you might find in a workshop.

The thing is, I saw the same junk out on that lawn almost a week later. I wondered, are they just going to leave it there until someone from the city has to come and clean it up? I know that happens a lot.

On another walk, I found an interesting collection on top of a manhole cover, pictured here. A pair of slip on boots and a wine glass. My imagination ran wild. Someone who had been partying a bit too much? Maybe fell down the manhole? Or was beamed up into a UFO? Of course it was probably just someone trying to get rid of their stuff.

That was confirmed days later when I came across the same spot. The boots were gone, but the wine glass was still there. And added to the collection was a frying pan and some cutlery. Dinner is served.

My husband and I have occasionally put things out on the boulevard with a “free” sign, and usually someone will take it. If it isn’t claimed within a day or so, we put it back inside and find another way to get rid of it.

Many years ago we left an old sofa out on the boulevard and watched through our living room window as a couple of young guys plopped each end of the sofa on their skateboards and rolled it away. Perfect.

Old couches and chairs are probably one of the more common sights on the side of the street. What I don’t get is why someone would leave them out there when it’s raining? I mean, if it wasn’t that appealing to begin with, a stuffed chair that has been left in the rain to rot is even less so.

Actually, in these days of COVID, I wouldn’t take anyone’s old couch anymore. You never know where it’s been.

And then there are the electronics. I’ve seen stereos, tv’s, computers and toaster ovens left out in the rain. If they were in working order once, they’re not anymore. What are people thinking? Well, that’s just it. They’re not.

When I left home at 18 years old, all I had was my bed, a dresser, some clothes and my guitar. Every time I moved after that, I seemed to have more things to pack up. Now I sit in a big house with more things than I’ll ever know what to do with. Not just my stuff, but my family’s old stuff too. I need to feng shui and declutter pretty badly.

In a few years, we will have to downsize and I’m not going to be able to bring everything with me. Neither of my kids wants any of it and I don’t blame them. They want to buy their own stuff. And things like old silverware and china don’t appeal to younger generations. They prefer new things from Ikea.

I have a feeling that the first year or two of my retirement is going to be spent just getting rid of stuff. And in the meantime, I’ve got to train myself to stop buying more stuff.

Except for that new bedroom set. I DO need that.

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Shrinkflation

I learned a new word today: shrinkflation.

Shrinkflation is defined as “a term used to describe the process of a product’s size being reduced while its price remains the same.”

Actually, I’ve been aware of this phenomenon for years, just like everyone else. I’ve just never had a name for it.

The first time I remember noticing it was quite a few years back when I was purchasing a certain bath product. I noticed one day that there was less product, but the price hadn’t changed. And the way they had cleverly re-packaged it made it look like you were getting the same amount.

But it really hit me recently when I was buying some of my usual deodorant. The shape of the container had changed. It was made to look like it would be easier to grip, kind of rounded in on the sides. How handy.

And then I got suspicious. I looked closer, comparing the old container with the new one, and saw that the amount of actual deodorant had been reduced by several grams. Surprise, surprise, the price was the same.

Not only that, but on the label, the size of the font with the number of grams had gotten smaller. Trying to hide something?

According to Wikipedia, “Shrinkflation allows companies to increase their operating margin and profitability by reducing costs whilst maintaining sales volume, and is often used as an alternative to raising prices in line with inflation.”

It’s just sneaky, you know? And how long do these companies think they can get away with it? At this rate, my deodorant will be the size of a crayon in a couple of years.

I’ll bet these big companies all have a Shrinkflation department. Nerdy people who sit around all day trying to figure out how to give us less and still charge us more. Change the packaging, make the content look like more than what it is. Give it a new name.

Sometimes they’re very clever, but other times all we have to do is know how to count. That box of tea bags used to last me a month. And didn’t I change that roll of toilet paper just the other day?

To be fair, occasionally there is a legitimate reason for a price increase or shrinkflation. The cost of producing something might go up unexpectedly, for instance.

The makers of Toblerone chocolate created a huge scandal a few years back when they changed the shape of the bar, making the gaps between the triangles wider, AND raising the price. Their explanation was that there had been an increase in the cost of cocoa so it was more expensive to produce. After a public uproar, they finally gave in and went back to the old shape. But the price went even higher.

Deodorant is one thing, but don’t you dare touch my chocolate!

There are some suggestions out there as to how to shop more wisely so you get the same bang for your buck. And of course, you can always complain, write emails, or post blogs.

One of the suggestions I read was that you don’t have to stay loyal to a brand. There’s an idea. Shop around for a competitor’s product and buy that instead. Ha!

Actually, I think I’ll take it one step further. I may just give up using deodorant altogether, and raise a REAL stink. That’ll teach ’em.