Category Archives: Anecdotes

A Post That Deliberately Sucks

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Slope of Hope is obviously not a site that does consumer product reviews, but I want to make an exception this time regarding the iRobot Room 880.

I’ll start by saying I’m a bit of a neat freak. I like things clean and orderly. But I’m also, shall we say, thrifty, so I don’t want to pay a housekeeper to show up too frequently.

A number of years ago, I bought a robotic vacuum cleaner from the relatively new company iRobot. It did OK, I guess, but it was really nothing that special. After a few weeks, I pretty much just shelved it, because it was too weak to provide any true cleaning power. I pretty much wrote off iRobot as a gimmick for years and years. I didn’t want to bother trying again.

A couple of months ago, I finally treated myself to the top-end vacuum robot, which is the model 880. In spite of my lame-o experience with the iRobot vacuum many years ago, the reviews of the new model were so positive, I decided to give it another shot.

Well, I’m a fan now. This thing is terrific. It does a fantastic job, and – – maybe I’m crazy – – but the ability to press a button and have something perform labor for me free of charge and without complaint is a really nice feeling. It’s sort of like having a slave without one iota of guilt (although, queerly, I still rush to the Roomba’s aid if it ever gets stuck somewhere, since I do feel kind of sorry for it when it starts beeping).

In any case, if there are any fellow Felix Unger types out there, I heartily recommend the 880, which you can get from Amazon for less than $600 (I paid over $700, but a recent price drop has made it even more attractive). Happy cleaning!


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Like a lot of people through the years, I had a fairly lousy time socially in the eighth grade. I had just moved to the Bay Area, and as a smart, gentle kid, I made an easy target for bullies. I didn’t go to a rough school at all, but still, there are going to be a few assholes anywhere you go, and my new town was no exception, and they had no trouble sniffing out the nice guy for verbal abuse. (One of the few kids who was consistently nice to me was pretty much the first girl I met out here who, incidentally, became my wife and mother of our children).


The Beast

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I grew up in the deep south of the United States, and the neighborhoods were de facto segregated. I was never taught racism, however, so in elementary school when I invited a black kid over to my house, he asked: “Will your parents mind?” I seriously didn’t know what he was talking about. “Why would they mind?” He replied: “Because I’m black.”

Well, I brought him over anyway, and we had a good time. Here in California, when people learn I’m from Louisiana, they assume I’m a bigoted redneck. The irony is that I’ve found the wealthy suburbs of the Bay Area to be far more racist than I ever knew in Louisiana. The zillionaires in Atherton are perfectly supportive of the coloreds, as long as they stay in East Palo Alto, as God intended.


Pao Wow

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The latest news in the Silicon Valley legal soap opera around Ellen Pao appeared late yesterday: the Superior Court ordered Ellen Pao to cough up $276,000 to pay Kleiner Perkins for part of their legal fees spent defending themselves against her sex bias lawsuit. As you’ll recall: (a) she sued them (b) they offered her a million bucks to settle; she said no (c) she lost the suit in a very public fashion (d) they sent her a million dollar invoice and offered to waive it if she didn’t file an appeal (e) she appealed anyway (f) she lost the legal fees ruling.


Of course, the Pao legal team is declaring this a victory, since Kleiner wanted about four times this amount, but in my opinion, it would seem that Pao’s strategy during this entire case has worked against her.