Vacuuming the old way

Our oddest Christmas present this year is a robot vacuum, given to us by a young relative. Bob was hugely skeptical at first but he has to admit: “It works, but it doesn’t hold much.”

Go to to find reviews for dozens of these, from Roomba on down. Ours, the “LeFant 300m,” costs $140 on Amazon. Roomba ranges from about $200 to over a thousand.

We have hardwood floors, four small mats in the kitchen, and a large Home Depot rug in the living room. It seems complicated, yet the robot vacuum handled them all, traveling from room to room in our small apartment. We charged it by plugging it into the wall. We dumped the debris by using a tiny Phillip’s screwdriver to open up the compartment where the filters are. One of the filters is washable. The other is a HEPA filter which limits dust, smoke, pollen, bacteria and mold. Joy likes it.

Readers Ring In on Robocalls

 We recently mentioned “do not disturb” mode on the iPhone but left out a crucial point. Readers were quick to point this out. Thanks guys!

 As one reader writes, with this new iPhone feature, “robo calls hang up before they even get to voicemail. Any human call you miss goes to voicemail so you can call right back.” Another points out that the missed call can be found under “Recents.” We’re guessing that the niece of ours who missed an important job interview after turning on “do not disturb” isn’t in the habit of checking voicemail very often.


  • Museum of Lost Objects.” Search on that phrase to find a BBC website with interesting articles and podcasts. They trace the history of antiquities destroyed or looted in Iraq, Syria, India and Pakistan. For example, a year ago a man used a drill to deface a winged bull in the ancient city of Nineveh, in Iraq.

  • has thousands of free movies, including classics. Joy immediately watched part of an old favorite, “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” They also had one of Bob’s favorites, the spaghetti Western, “My Name is Nobody,” and much more recent titles, like the 2007 movie “War” with Jason Statham. We clicked “browse titles” and didn’t have to register on the site to start watching.

    Image Courtesy of CNN

  • You can still buy $1 homes all over Italy.” Search on that phrase to find a fascinating article from It’s an attempt to get rid of abandoned homes, mostly in the south.Though many have been snapped up, you can still get one if you put down a deposit ranging from $2200 – $5600. You get your deposit back in three years if you have refurbished the home.
  • The best thing you can do for your health: Sleep Well.” Search on that phrase to find the Guardian newspaper’s most-read article of 2019. Both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher bragged about sleeping only four or five hours a night but they both got Alzheimer’s. Insufficient sleep may be a factor.

The Worst Video Game Ever

The other day we were listening to “Sidedoor,” a podcast from the Smithsonian. They were talking about the worst video game ever, a 1982 Atari game based on the movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Instead of the usual eight months, the developer was given only one month to create it. Apparently, it was so bad it ruined the company. Atari’s name was mud. (Atari means “that’s a hit” in Japanese.) The developer lost his job and became a therapist.

It didn’t help that Atari allowed other companies to use the Atari name and after awhile, there was only so much you could do with the old format. Their video game sales dropped 90 percent between 1982 and 1986.

In the podcast we learned that a group set out to find the old cartridges dumped by Atari in the New Mexico desert. Sure enough, they uncovered 1,178 of them.

Pedal to the Metal

Joy bought a foot pedal for her sewing machine on eBay for $20 but It was the wrong one. Returning it to China cost $23.50, and involved standing in a long line at the Post Office twice. The first time she had to step out of the line to fill out a form.

The irony is, the Chinese vendor had already refunded her account on eBay and hadn’t asked for the package back. But it felt wrong to keep it. Lesson learned: Pay attention to where a product is coming from. If it’s from too far away, it may cost a lot to return it.

Shopping Scams

Fake sites are a growing problem. They now number in the thousands.

Joy thought she was buying a birthday present from Arlington racetrack in Illinois, but it was really a site with Arlington in the name. Five months later, she found out that the recipient had not received it. When she contacted the Shopify store, they refunded the money for the original shirt she ordered, supplied a free shirt of a different kind, and apologized profusely for letting things fall through the cracks while they were in a transition period.

The Washington Post did an investigative piece on Shopify problems nationwide. They gave an example of a photo of a $2,495 coat from Overland Sheepskin that was used to sell a $70 knock-off with lopsided sleeves. The fabric was described by one buyer as looking like “roadkill” or “rat fur.” Around 753 websites stole Overland Sheepskin’s photos to sell their own wares. Most of these sites are on Shopify. By the way, the Post sells their own branded merchandise through Shopify.



Comments are closed.