This is becoming something of a miniseries — you can see the post about the maidbot here, and there’s a link to the tinkerbot post at the end of that one.
This post appeared on my Patreon page ten days ago — become a patron and see them FIRST. Also you get a free ebook or an exclusive post sometimes!
But enough about those things. This is about gardenerbots and how I just might be willing to kill for one.
Though, maybe not yet because a ratty old trailer in a rundown old trailerpark doesn’t provide a lawn worth keeping up (barring acts of Murphy, we ought to be taking up residence in a little rental duplex or even a small house sometime in the next 1-3 months. Wish us luck!).
But it would almost be worth if just for my little urban garden that I grow in felt pots (which are awesome — plants don’t get rootbound, they grow well, and if you want to put them away for the winter they fold up pretty well). If a gardenerbot was really cheap, like maybe I found a used one on Craigslist that someone was letting go for a hundred bucks because one arm got smashed in a freak tree-trimming accident, I’d totally jump on it (assuming it was near the beginning of the month and my patronage had just hit my PayPal account — otherwise I tend to spend it on food or laundry soap or a while back I used some of it to replace a dead mouse, or contributing to the internet bill. You know, stuff that being able to afford makes this little trailer a more congenial place to live and write).
I could go for it because my gardening skills are only so-so. When I grow my veggies the yields are pretty inconsistent and I’m pretty sure I lose plants I shouldn’t. But a gardenerbot with halfway decent programming, I’m sure, wouldn’t have that problem. I just might kill for one.
It would be all the more enticing if I had a quarter-acre or so of backyard to gardenify. Even an eighth-acre. Or to mow. I’ve never been a fan of mowing lawns.
In fact, I bet within ten or twenty years of rollout a gardenerbot would be cheaper than a good lawn tractor. Then you wouldn’t have to buy a lawn tractor. Or a tiller. Or even a cheap, crappy version of either.
You could buy the absolute cheapest of each of those. An old-fashioned non-motorized push mower.
Instead of an expensive power tiller (or less-expensive but yearly tiller rental)? A couple of good shovels, a hoe, and a rake.
Because what’s the gardenerbot going to do? Get tired? Suffer heatstroke from overwork in the hot sun? Complain about the long hours during sowing and harvest?
Nope. Because it’s a machine. And in the future if self-aware AI is possible…
…it doesn’t take self-awareness to cut grass and plant bell peppers and fertilize the roses. So you don’t even have to worry about being gardened to death in the robot revolution.
It won’t forget to water the vegetables until the leaves get droopy like I’ve been known to do.
If the vegetables or grass or trees start looking unhealthy it will be able to identify the most likely nutrient deficiency or infestation and treat it. When I have to try to identify that kind of thing, I’m mostly guessing and it’s mostly luck when I’m successful.
If I had more room to garden and more lawn to take care of, it would be worth it and I’d totally kill for a gardenerbot then.
Another benefit I hinted at above: tree maintenance. Bush trimming (I mean shrubs, this isn’t a ’70s porn post — the other kind would be handled by a sexbot or a barberbot), stump pulling, digging where electrical or gas or water lines might be.
You know, the dangerous stuff. Not only would a bot not, you know, die if a tree dropped on it or it jammed a shovel blade into a live power line, but the gardenerbot would have access to online maps of these lines so it could avoid them way better than you trying to figure out exactly how the symbols on the map correspond to locations on your lawn (humans do not have GPS, but a bot would). Surely it could do a better job than you or I referencing multiple utility company maps and trying not to forget anything.
All that, and more fresh veggies and fruit than I can grow left to my own devices? Yep, I’d totally kill for a gardenerbot.
I do the laundry for a household of five, including a four year old and a six year old who for some reason have to do at least two wardrobe changes daily. Shirts come off (“I got hot playing”) and go in the hamper; an hour later: “I’m cold. I need a shirt.” Or there’s a mud and dirt incident outdoors – which I live with; I’d be worried if they didn’t get dirty at this age. And there’s a fair bit of evidence playing in the dirt is a shot in the arm for growing immune systems, lowering rates of allergy and illness. But still: more laundry. It’s a rare day I don’t do two or three loads.
I’d kill for a maidbot.
Vacuuming. Sweeping. Cleaning surfaces, appliances, furniture, metal, television screens, books. Books attract a lot of dust. I have a few hundred books. Which sucks. Ten or twelve years ago before a series of moves and necessary weedings-out of possessions, I had a few thousand.
I don’t dust them enough. Or do any of the other things in the previous paragraph. I’m kind of a sucky housekeeper.
I’d kill for a maidbot.
I just thought: the maidbot wouldn’t just do the laundry, it would fold it and put it away. And rearrange the drawers when they got disorganized.
I’d kill for a maidbot.
I don’t do the dishes except a few here and there as I cook during the day. My eldest does that – we don’t have a dishwasher appliance. Imagine the time and effort he’d save. I wonder what maidbots would do to dishwasher sales?
I don’t care. I’d kill for a maidbot.
I bet the first ones will be expensive and buggy. But within five or ten years of release they’ll likely be far less buggy and no more expensive than a television – and used ones will be showing up on Craigslist and in thrift stores and pawnshops.
They’ll be one of the most popular Christmas gifts. Everyone will want one.
Wouldn’t you kill for a maidbot?
[Next: I Would Kill For A Tinkerbot]
So, the toilet ate my writing time tonight.
Every day I foolishly think of all of the hours and hours that are available to me for writing, and I expect to take advantage of several of them. But things intervene. Things like changing diapers (baby butts do NOT respond well to being left wet and need to be dealt with promptly), cooking meals, doing minor car repairs, shopping, and so on.
Today was special, though. You see, the day before yesterday, the toilet stopped working. By which I mean it started shooting water out from under one side when flushed. NOT a situation you can ignore. Not only is a wet floor no fun, but when it’s a toilet that’s involved it’s, shall we say, less than sanitary.
This was complicated by the fact that our small and humble home has only one bathroom. So yesterday was a bit trying, but everyone was a good sport and put up with the temporary inconvenience. A neighbor who knows a bit about plumbing stuff (as I think of it) was going to help us out today and get our facilities back in working order. So today we went out, ran some errands in places that conveniently had working toilets for us to take advantage of, and…
…and of course the neighbor was delayed, detained, and missing in action. I’m not pointing fingers; I don’t doubt that what came up was important. Our neighbor likes us and isn’t the kind of person who would just blow us off for nothing.
But as the evening wore on, I realized I had one of two choices: wait, or try to learn how to fix a toilet on the fly.
So being a logical sort of person, I decided to rip that sucker out of the floor and try to figure it out as I went. Usually this sort of thing ends badly. But I figured, what do I have to lose?
After figuring out that the problem is a floor that has subsided a bit, I realized that the real, long-term fix will be to replace the floor. But it has not subsided dangerously, so the short-term fix that should hold it for a few weeks until a real expert can help us fix this for the long term:
I put down a new wax seal, set a couple of wooden paint stirrers under one side as shims to level it, screwed that sucker down to the floor, and with great apprehension that I was about to cause a flood of both water and disappointment, tested it.
Wonder of wonder, it works with no leaks and is stable and firmly attached to the floor.
I know those shims aren’t forever. You don’t put wood down where it’s going to be damp from time to time and expect long life. But I have successfully MacGuyvered something that I knew nothing about. It’s nice to know this lump of gray matter I use for writing is good for figuring out a mechanical problem once in a while.
Even if it means I got diddly done for writing today.