I'm not sure why, but I've faced an above average number of serious cleaning challenges in the past few weeks--at least for a single guy without kids. Rather than simply be annoyed by these events, I'm taking the time to share my problems with the rest of the world.

Don't you feel lucky?

Litterbox vs. The Cleaners

A couple weeks ago I visited New Orleans for the 2005 Webmaster World Conference (pictures). I gone less than 2 days so didn't bother to ask the folks at Home Alone Pet and Plant Care (highly recommended, btw) to drop in on my cats.

Big mistake.

You see, my cleaning service visits every two weeks on Tuesdays. I left fort the airport on Tuesday morning and they hadn't arrived yet (they usually come during the early afternoon).

While cleaning, they apparently put the litterbox scoop (a little plastic shovel) into the litterbox and forgot to remove it. This wouldn't normally matter, except that I don't have an ordinary litterbox. No, I have the LitterMaid Mega Self-Cleaning Litterbox. And it kicks much ass.

But the scoop was left in such a way that it caused the mechanism to jam up. That shouldn't have been a bit deal, since the mechanism simple goes into reverse when it senses a jam. The trouble is that it was lodged in really well and jammed in both directions.

As a result, the litterbox ran for the next day and a half. This had the effect of, quite literally, scaring the shit out of my cats. Instead of using the litterbox that was then spooking them, they opted for the next best thing: my bedroom carpet. And the hallway carpet. And a little bit downstairs too.

I was most unhappy to discover this. Luckily, my cleaning service took responsibility for the problem and arranged to have the carpet steam cleaned. It's a good thing, too. I was headed to Parowan, Utah the following day.

Oh, and the litterbox doesn't work anymore either. I need a new one.

Exploding Root Beer vs. The Kitchen

Today I was getting some ice out of the freezer when several cans of Diet Root Beer decided to roll off the top of the fridge and hit the floor. I saw this happening in slow motion--well, all except the part where two of them explode. The exploding cans managed to spray my legs, shoes, the kitchen floor, walls, cat food, inside the freezer, and numerous other places. And, of course, I was attempting to cook when this happened.

One roll of paper towels and quite a bit of mopping later, the damage was mostly contained. After that was over, I stopped to think about the last time I had an major cleanup to contend with and realized that it'd been quite a while. I guess this was overdue.

Perhaps I shouldn't store cans that way.

Posted by jzawodn at July 10, 2005 09:38 PM

Reader Comments
# Ryan said:

I can't stop laughing about the cat part. I have two. One of them likes to eat too fast sometimes, causing him to throw it up shortly after eating.

He *COULD* do so on the linoleum, which is really easy to clean. Instead he opts for the carpet, which isn't.

on July 10, 2005 10:50 PM
# Tim Converse said:

Hee hee -- hilarious post. Yes, these semi-automated cronned household processes sure save us all a lot of time and effort ... until they go _rogue_ that is.

I don't have a story to match the kitty litter story, but (as best we can figure out) electrical problems in our garage caused our automatic sprinkler system controller to get garbage values for watering times, which in turn meant coming home to water streaming down the sidewalk from a modest set of shrubs that had been scheduled to be watered for 4+ hours, rather than a few minutes. All this is not a big deal and fixable ... but what if you decide to, say, go out of town for a while? People living in semi-autonomous dwellings are advised not to take extended vacations.

on July 10, 2005 10:54 PM
# Patrick Mullen said:

Fortunately for us, we have a housesitter who can be trusted to supervise three dogs and the cat when we are gone.

Trust is an important word when you evaluate a housesitter. Tim is probably correct about extended absences though. I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving the place longer than a couple of weeks. In any event, I get homesick easy.

on July 11, 2005 01:02 AM
# kasia said:

One feature I wish they would add to that litter box is self-shutoff when it cannot recover from a jam.. right now it just keeps trying.. and trying.. and trying.. until it dies, I suppose.

Benefit(?) of having floor plants: the cats will just go in the pots when no other options remains.. beats them going on the carpet.

on July 11, 2005 04:23 AM
# pjm said:

Jeremy, I was about to eBay one of those litterboxes (personal preference: we decided we'd rather scoop the box than replace the bins on the self-scooping one.) Email me if you want to jump the queue.

on July 11, 2005 05:13 AM
# Glen Campbell said:

My friend Dave has his First Law: "Anything that can automatically be done FOR you, can also automatically be done TO you."

on July 11, 2005 06:26 AM
# Nick said:

The littermaid is for beginners Jeremy ;). The mechanical motor always gets stuck (too weak), there is quite a mess of litter around the box, and it uses those custom plastic disposal trays. We traded ours in for a litter robot. Check it out www.litter-robot.com. Not only can you use normal bags, but it also looks like a driod from star wars! The litter robot lasts about 5 days before needing to empty the tray with two cats.

on July 11, 2005 08:38 AM
# Steve Cooley said:

I have to echo the recommendation of the litter robot : http://www.litter-robot.com/

we love ours.

on July 11, 2005 09:36 AM
# macdo said:

I feel for you. There is obviously some sort of anti-brownie that takes a vicious delight in messing up the houses of single men...

on July 11, 2005 01:30 PM
# Ron Bell said:

Funny story. I owned two of the LitterMaid self-cleaning cat boxes and really loved them--BUT both of them lasted only a year or so. After a while, even premium litter got into the tracks used by the comb which scoops the poop and jammed the mechanism. I wish you better luck!

on July 13, 2005 09:43 AM
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