RL427 - Mapping Run

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: No one else in the house was allowed to touch his egg pan, referring to John’s mother’s father who had a cast iron egg pan.

The show title refers to Merlin’s Roomba doing mapping runs through the apartment when his family is out of town.

Their podcast is no longer in Philosophy on iTunes, Merlin changed that after a week, and he put it in Comedy or Society, but nobody looks at that stuff.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Merlin’s family being out of town (RL427)

It is going really good for Merlin because his God-damn family is out of the house, doing a hike at Merlin’s wife’s alma mater in Santa Cruz. Merlin is in his private studio right now, but he has a running list of things to do when his family is not in the house and he gets to do all of those filthy dirty things. When he was younger he would utilize that time to commit the scent of onin (?) in an elaborate way, but now on the top of his list is seasoning the cast iron pans. You are trying to explain that to people and they still use soap on it. Don’t touch daddy’s pans. This is Merlin’s opportunity to run the oven really high, break it down a little bit, season them back up nice.

They are making it seem like the hike in Santa Cruz is a fun thing for everybody, but in reality they just wanted to get away from Daddy for a little bit. It is a break for everybody, and if Merlin didn’t have his studio he would be in a shallow grave after the last year.

Seasoning cast iron pans (RL427)

Merlin is so glad his family is out of the house and John wishes he could be there and smell his cast iron pans burning. Somebody sent John a Made In carbon steel pans (Merlin calls it Made For) and as he read about it he noticed that it is the most persnickety, requiring the most constant maintenance, like an MG. You can screw it up pretty easily, it will rust, it will leech carbon fiber into your omelet, but if you season it then eggs just slip right around like they were on a skating rink. The cast iron pan people will tell you about their grandma’s skillet. ”Kiss the pan!” (reference to a Mr. Show bit called Thrilling Miracles!) ”He is gone now!” - ”I will be back in 10 minutes because I have to take a shit!” Merlin still watches that a lot.

Some people like their friend John Siracusa doesn’t do any of this fuzziness and his pan is fine. John has put more work into his cast iron pans than he has put into college. The same is true for Merlin, sometimes he starts over or does the trick where he covers it in Easy Off and leaves it in a bag overnight, but he doesn’t know if the results are worth it.

John’s mother’s father had a cast iron egg pan that he never washed, but he just wiped it out with a rag. No-one else in the house was allowed to touch his egg pan. Soap never touched it, nothing touched it, and you could see your reflection in it. Someone else must have inherited that egg pan because John never saw it. John has quite a collection of cast iron pans and when he moved to the new house he did the unthinkable: He gave all of the cast iron pans to the thrift-store that he could not positively locate as a product of the 19th century. He had one of every size and he didn’t need as many. Now John has a carbon steel one and he has just taken it out of the box and has not seasoned it yet and doesn’t understand it and has to do his research.

Merlin letting his Roomba do mapping runs (RL427)

Merlin can also tell the vacuum robot called Rosey to do mapping runs. It will empty its bag on its own that is very packed and stuffed and contains carpet powder Arm & Hammer Pet Powder, which is basically deodorized baking soda, to help determine where it thinks areas are. You can define rooms and zones, like places where the cat drops a deuce a lot or areas it should avoid, and if Merlin is not sure if it really knows where the kitchen starts he will strew some carpet powder and see if it will correctly report a dirt event. Mapping runs without cleaning take less battery.

John is always on a mapping run, bumping into things without cleaning, and it is the reason why he never takes the same route twice, and when it is time to clean he will have the map. What he doesn’t have is his own Merlin that is putting carpet powder down to make him think it is dirt. Merlin has learned a lot about life from the Roomba and he wants to talk about it on Back to Work, but Dan is not into it. For example: ”It takes time to learn!”

The name Rosey is a Jetsons reference. They even have Rosey stickers for Roombas on Amazon. What he has learned from the Roomba is: 1) it takes time to learn in life, 2) you have to update in life. Just because you learned it once good doesn’t mean it won’t change. Merlin sent John screenshots of his mapping run and a cleaning run with dirt events. Merlin’s house’s map looks like a Gerrymandered legislative district in a Southern State.

There is a joke about the cleaning ladies from the 1960s who said: ”I don’t do windows!” and we were all meant to understand that this is a persnickety cleaning lady and it meant to communicate something if you read that in a 1-panel comic in a Playboy Magazine from 1972. You either need to hire a second person who only does windows or you need to do the windows yourself.

Sometimes Merlin’s Roomba sends him a message that she had a memory error 66 because he has too much map. Merlin reads from the manual what it means and how he is supposed to mitigate it. The text uses the word ”provisioned”, like it has a donkey and it is going out prospecting. The ones that make all the money are the donkey salesmen!

This was the whole problem with the Gold Rush: The guys who sold the Mulberry bushes were the ones who made all the money and the people who were trying to make American silk didn’t have the patience to unspool the little silk cocoons and that is why there is a Mulberry street in every town on the East Coast. Somebody made a lot of money selling those bushes! It is the lawyers and the provisioners that get all the money. Who is the provisioner here? John? The robot? The goat carpet?

John was given a Roomba, he turned it on, watched it go around, was pretty thrilled about it, but it needed to be emptied and after that he hasn’t turned it on again. When he sees little dirt events around the house he thinks that the Roomba is going to take care of that, but he hasn’t turned it on, so it doesn’t know to take care of it. There is a lot John needs to learn about the Roomba, he hasn’t done any mapping runs and can’t find that function in the app. Merlin thinks John needs to buy a better Roomba that can do mapping runs.

John’s three different carpet environments (RL427)

John has several different floor environments. He has raised up certain parts with different carpets, textures, and styles. One room has floor with a fairly fuzzy carpet on top of it in an asymmetrical pattern and if you had a certain kind of OCD it would be difficult to know how to walk across that one. Not only is the pattern full of random events… Merlin adds that the jaggy-ass pattern on hotel- and casino-carpets stimulate dopamin, which is while taking a walk in areas with trees and grass also does that. John’s carpet is made in India out of natural tufted wool, it is black & white where the white is natural unfiltered wool color and it looks like a chromosome map.

If you were playing on this carpet with Hot Wheels there would be an infinite number of roads and streets for your Hot Wheel to go on, but they wouldn’t connect with each other because they are chromosomes. It almost looks a bit like braille and it is very difficult to make out a path to walk across it. John’s Roomba seems to have found a way to clean this carpet, but there are two other carpet environments in the house, each one more challenging than the last, like the movie Saw, but for a vacuum cleaner.

The second carpet is a series orange wall-to-wall shag carpet, a dad-carpet from the 1970s, and John went through great lengths to find it and many stores wanted to offer him a carpet in beige, but all the things today are either beige, white, or black, including cars. John found a company somewhere in America that was willing to make heavy bright orange shag carpet and put it in one of the bedrooms, but when the robot comes to the threshold it stares into what it thinks is a room full of lava, a Nietzschean Abyss. John has kept the door closed so that the Roomba doesn’t experience confusion.

The third carpet is the final boss and if you have made it through everything the carpet says: ”You have killed me, but I am still alive!” It is a giant wool carpet that is basically a sheep. If you were in Afghanistan where you and your friends all had horses and you were playing a game where there was a little friend that had died and you were ride around and try to grab it from each other and throw it around, if you took that dead little friend and turned it into a 14’-14’ carpet it would be this carpet. If someone two blocks from here has a pebble in the sole of their shoe it will find a way into this carpet. It is the color of goats.

This carpet makes John feel like Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia who had a bunch of super-good carpets in his tent and he also had a carpet that was just made out of goats. After living with it for about a year he believes that it is uncleanable by any method, like combing Merlin’s cat: As soon as you stop doing it you will never be able to comb the cat, and John has a 14’ square cat that he hasn’t combed for a year because he hasn’t been living there for that long. For a lot of the time the carpet was just there for the drywallers to get stuff in, like a drywall trap. There are burs in it that are only from plants that appear in the South West and John hasn’t been to the South West in over a year.

It feels like the type of carpet that would be in a stoner’s house from a long time ago and he wishes bong water would get in there because he loves Ann Magnuson (from the band Bongwater) They followed each other on Twitter back when John was on social media. Merlin always thought she was a pistol, she was like the Indie Rock Bette Midler. If John had lived in New York in 1980 he would have only wanted to be friends with Ann Magnuson and wouldn’t even have wanted to do any of the other things that happened in New York in 1980. He wouldn’t have gotten a slice because he hates New York pizza.

Merlin thinks that John could reach a point of no return with that carpet. John thinks that he should have gotten an alert when he bought it, like those tsunami alerts in Hawaii that nobody pays any attention to anymore, that said: ”You are about to buy a carpet that cannot be cleaned and here are testimonials from thousands of people before you that had this carpet in their house for a year until it got full of burrs and drywall powder and even real Rosey couldn’t clean it!” It creates little avatars of itself and shed like a wizard beard. It is so long that every three days it sheds an entire Angora cat, and if it wasn’t for Roomba there would be a herd of goats in the house.

John was thinking that this was a kind of luxury that only James Bond would understand, but James Bond probably has people who can go to town with that. It was not expensive because expensive-carpet-purchasing-people recognized that this was uncleanable, and even people who have people recognized that they have other things for their people to do. Merlin used to dismiss reviews that talked about how easy something was to clean as a normie neo-liberal way to look at life, but now he is a man who has to chase the family out of the house to clean a pan and that is not sustainable for every item in his life.

John thought the robot would take care of it, but it would need a carpet rake. One day John will come home and the robot will have purchased itself a leaf blower and the last thing John needs is another leaf blower in this neighborhood, and it will have headphones on and won’t be able to hear John when he is shouting at it. It raises the question if this carpet wants to be clean.

When John lived at the farm it was mostly a shoes-off house, but if he came running in the front door and had to go upstairs to get something he would just wear his shoes and it wasn’t a thing where he stood there like a little Nanny. You could wear your shoes around the house, who cares, but John took his shoes off when he came in because he likes to pad around with his stocking feet. In John’s new house there are places that are not the front door where you take off the shoes. If you make it down the wall and you get to the end of the hall there is another layer of ”Take your shoes off!”, which sounds like John is living in a video game, and if you fail to do so then you will never find the key that opens the magic door.

The problem with John is that he collects burrs on other parts of his body besides his shoes and one time he had a pine cone in his hair and pollen in his beard and stuff that gradually falls to the floor and then he is wondering how he got a pine cone in there and he thought the room has squirrels, but in fact he is the squirrel himself, and in a mapping run he will just leave that door closed. It is about managing expectations of his robot: Can he ask it to find a way or are we going to hold hands and solve a problem by closing a door?

John getting an Internet-connected garage door opener (RL427)

John is very suspicious of having a door bell that is also a video camera and he is not 100% sure he wants his garage door opener to be part of the Internet like Matt Haughey who still can’t get in and is sitting in front of his house. Anybody could Stuxnet your garage door opener. The other day somebody came and put a garage door opener in John’s house that is connected to the Internet because they all are that now. When Matt Haughey connected his to the Internet it was an early version of the Internet. He hasn’t seen his daughter in 3 years, he can see her through the window: ”I love you, Daddy!”

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