Nature tends to run its own course, just as technology that attempts to control nature tends to run its.
The results, when unforeseen possibilities are thrown into the mix, aren’t always pretty.
The depiction above is by one Jesse Newton, showing what happened on a recent night when nature ran its course, via his dog Evie, and then his trusty Roomba, programmed to clean up all the hair Evie sheds, ran its.
That zig-zagging, curly-cued brown trail recreates the stained path the Roomba left in the Newton’s living room in Arkansas after rolling through a pile of Evie’s poop.
But on this night, somebody forgot to do that.
As everyone slept — Jesse, wife Kelly and son Evan — the robot vacuum did what it is programmed to do every night between midnight and 1:30 a.m.: Roll all across every inch of the living room floor sucking up any debris in its path.
The results were disastrous, Jesse noted in a now-viral Facebook post that warns other Roomba/dog owners of a possibility they might not have envisioned:
“… Poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting. It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids’ toy boxes. If it’s near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25-foot poop trails all over the house.”
What had happened during the night came to his attention when his young son traipsed through the living room and crawled into bed with him the next morning.
He gave his son a bath and put him back to bed, then he spent the next three hours cleaning, including shampooing the carpet.
Kelly Newton says she awoke to the smell of “every cleaning product we own” and knew “something epic had taken place.”
Later, Jesse disassembled the Roomba, cleaning its parts and reassembling it, only to find it didn’t work anymore.
Jesse said he called the store where he had purchased the $400 robot, Hammacher Schlemmer, and it promised to replace it.
I’ve railed before about rushing into new technologies that promise to give us control over nature, wrote a whole book on it, in fact. Those pushing such innovations and rushing them onto the market — most often for the profit they might lead to — often don’t take the time to envision all the little things, and big things, that could go wrong.
That haste can lead to far worse things than a stinky mess and a three-hour clean-up.
We can laugh at this one, as Jesse Newton has admirably managed to do.
But, beneath all the mess, there’s a moral to the story — one that, as we turn to robots for more than vacuuming our floors, we might want to slow down and figure out.
(Photos: Jesse Newton / Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 16th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amok, animals, arkansas, control, controlling nature, convenience, devices, dog, dog poop, dogs, environment, evie, facebook, future, humans, jesse newton, nature, pets, poop, robot, robotics, roomba, technology, vacuum, warning
Pooper, that new app that promised to send a human to scoop up your dog’s poop on demand — Uber-style — was, as we suspected, a bunch of crap.
Its originators have now confessed — to Newsweek and others — that it was a hoax, or, to put it nicely, “an art project that satirizes our app-obsessed world.”
While a good many media outlets presented the story with at least a little skepticism — skepticism being easier than getting to the bottom of the story — more than a few fell for it hook, line and sinker.
After its initial announcement, Pooper garnered media attention from around the world.
Even the Washington Post treated it as (mostly) legit.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of sign-ups,” Ben Becker told Newseek. Becker came up with a hoax with a friend, Elliot Glass. “People have been signing up to be both poopers and scoopers.”
Becker, a creative director in the advertising world, and Glass, a designer and web developer in Los Angeles, hatched the idea this past winter during a discussion about navel-gazing startup culture.
“We wanted to begin a project that reflected the state of technology—specifically apps,” says Becker in a phone interview. “Taking the visual signifiers and language and the entire world and inhabiting it, inserting an absurd purpose for it. In this case, that would be dog poop.”
Throughout the spring, Becker and Glass spent weekends and late nights plotting “Pooper,” an inane but otherwise believable app that parodies Silicon Valley’s brand of innovation: It purports to solve a problem that doesn’t exist unless you are very rich and lazy.
Whether you see it as a satirical art project, social experiment, or scam, the whole thing did show how gullible we, as a species, are; how increasingly gullible (and lazy) much of the news media has become; and how all is not peachy with our economy.
It’s not like 99 percent of us signed up to clean up after the one percent’s dogs, but a lot more signed up to be scoopers than did those thinking they might want to use the service.
Becker and Glass used Uber as a model for the app and website, issued a press release and put together a demo video. They claimed the project was in the beta testing phase in a few major cities.
News organizations couldn’t resist the story.
As Newsweek reported, some publications “wrote about Pooper in a skeptical, this-is-maybe-fake-but-we’re-going-to-write-about-it-anyway voice, which is increasingly how bloggers write up hoaxy stories as a way of scooping up traffic without touching shit.”
(We’d agree, and that’s what we did. Then again, there’s not too many dog poop stories we ignore, and it was one of my websites that, tongue in cheek, promoted the idea of dog poop valets years ago.)
Ludicrous as it may sound, it, and the phony Pooper app, are not entirely outlandish ideas. There are some aging and afflicted folks who might need help with the task. And — apologies to all my very close professional dog walker friends — but is having one walk and clean up after one’s dog really that different?
Becker and Glass told Newsweek they are at work on other undisclosed schemes — even though they’ve already proven that their high tech hijinks are not to be trusted.
That’s kind of their point.
“We’d like people to question what they’re reading in the news, question what they’re looking at online and question what their own relationship is to technology,” Becker said.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 1st, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, app, apps, dog, dog poop, dogs, hoax, internet, on demand, pets, poop, pooper, satire, satirical, scam, scoop, scoopers, technology, uber
Just as Uber will whisk you where you need to go, the folks behind the new app Pooper — that’s right, Pooper — promise to pounce on and dispose of your dog’s poop, for a small fee, of course.
If it sounds like one of those hoax apps, well that’s entirely possible.
But until it’s exposed as such, I’m going to take it seriously — I, after all, having come up with the idea of poop valets long ago.
True, my idea was a bit more fanciful, and didn’t have an app; and true my idea was clearly tongue in cheek, unlike Pooper, whose professional-looking website leaves you thinking, hey, this might be real.
There, if they are to be believed, they have recruited the on-call staff necessary to answer your call when your dog answers nature’s.
Actually, no call is even necessary, assuming you are a subscriber. Just take a photo of your dog’s mess and send it on to the app. The location is sent out to all members of the local scooping team, who we we can only presume are standing by excitedly.
One of them accepts the mission — we assume they are on a first come, first served basis — and goes to the scene and cleans it up.
Pooper, as the ad above puts it, allows you to put “your dog’s poop in someone else’s hands.”
Three kinds of monthly “subscriptions” are available, according to the pooperapp website.
For $15 a month, you get two scoops a day within a 15-mile radius; for $25, you get three scoops a day over a 30-mile radius (and yes, you can rollover unused scoops); for $35 you can have the “elite plan,” unlimited scoops, unlimited radius.
Pooper says the service is good for the environment.
And just like Uber drivers, Pooper scoopers — for whom we don’t imagine there will be too intense a screening process — could cash in.
Scoopers will be able to sign up for scooping duties, though the website says no more are needed during the Beta period.
“Anyone with a smart phone can scoop for us. Scoopers are paid per-scoop, use their own mode of transportation – car, bike, scooter, hiking boots – and scoop on their own schedule,” says the website.
Even though they ripped off my idea, I hold no ill will against the people behind Pooper — at least not until they get unbelievably rich. (Then I will have all kinds of ill will.)
In today’s world, such intellectual thefts have become commonplace, though I must admit they run counter to my very personal belief that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.
Besides, I’m busy brainstorming a new project that just might put Pooper out of business, if they are really in business to begin with.
That involves coming up with a way to get all those people already walking the streets while playing Pokémon Go to pick up dog poop for free.
Bonus points, maybe.
(Photos and video from Pooperapp.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, app, clean up, dog, dog poop, dogs, feces, hoax, pets, pick-up, Pokémon, pokemon go, poop, poop valet, pooper, pooper app, scoop, scoopers, scooping, uber, waste
Officials in Torrelodones, a town outside Spain’s capital of Madrid, are scratching their heads after someone made off with a giant inflatable replica of dog poop — a municipally-sanctioned artwork (and we use the term loosely) intended to remind citizens to pick up after their dogs.
The victim, when on display, is brown, nearly 10 feet high, and weighs about 65 pounds.
Once the air is let out, it is small enough to be packed in a carrying case, which is the condition it was in when someone walked off with it.
The town says it will cost more than $2,700 to replace.
Speaking to the ABC newspaper, a town official said staff were shocked and perplexed by the theft, and a replacement excrement was already on order because “we know that the campaign has been a great success.”
No word on how long it may take for that to come to pass.
Nor is there any mention of a ransom note being sent by those who pinched it.
The inflatable poop is one of several symbols being used in the municipality’s “Lay an egg” campaign. Torrelodones has also placed concrete dog poops around town bearing the message “This is a big blockage to living together. If you have a dog, help us.”
Should an arrest be made, we think the suspect would be able to put on a pretty good defense.
After all, he or she was only doing — albeit on a far larger scale — what the campaign urges.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 10th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, campaign, clean, display, dog, dogs, droppings, excrement, exhibit, feces, giant, gigantic, inflatable, investigation, madrid, pets, pick-up, poop, replica, spain, stolen, stolen turd, torrelodones, town, turd
Dog owners whose pets soil the streets of Madrid could soon find themselves cleaning those streets.
City officials unveiled their “shock plan” this week, saying those who do not clean up after their dogs in the Spanish capital will have to either pay a fines up to $1,700 — or go to work as street cleaners.
Municipal police will test the scheme in the two city districts where un-scooped dog poop seems to be the biggest problem, according to The Guardian.
Madrid and other Spanish cities have been cracking down on scofflaws for years now.
Last year the city of Tarragona announced it would use DNA analysis of dog droppings to track down owners who fail to clean up after them.
El Vendrell, a small town of 36,000 people in northeastern Spain, has tried setting up a canine toilet along one of its main thoroughfares.
And in the town of Brunete a few years ago, volunteers who spotted scofflaws struck up friendly conversations with them, obtaining enough information for city officials to identify them and send them a package marked “Lost Property.” Inside, they would find … you guessed it.
Madrid has launched repeated public awareness campaigns over the years, aimed at getting a handle on the problem, and it has distributed millions of free poop bags.
But, “there is still excrement in the streets, parks and other places,” the city said. Under the new plan, dog owners will have only one way of avoiding the hefty fine — by performing street cleaning duties for a few days.
The number of hours they are required to put in would be based on the size of the fine, the city says.
(Photo: TNT Magazine via The Guardian)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 27th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campaign, city, cleaners, cleaning, community service, dog, dog poop, dogs, excrement, feces, fines, law, madrid, pets, pick-up, poop, scofflaws, shock plan, spain, street
Vanderbilt University may well have some racial inequities worth addressing. And some racist acts may take place on campus from time to time. But Marley’s poop was not one of them.
A sack of dog poop left on the front steps of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center — discovered the day after a student demonstration to show support for protesters at the University of Missouri — was quickly decried by a student organization as a “vile” and “racist” act.
In reality, the bag was left there by a blind student who cleaned up the mess left by her guide dog, Marley, but could not find a trash receptacle to place it in.
On Monday, about 200 Vanderbilt students staged a walkout over campus race relations — one described as a show of support for the Missouri students, but also held to draw attention to Vanderbilt’s own problems when it comes to racial imbalances.
On Tuesday, the bag of feces was found in front of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center.
Backers of a university campaign called Hidden Dores, the mission of which is to “draw attention to the racial and ethnic minority experience on a predominantly white campus,” quickly placed a post on Facebook decrying the deed.
“The Hidden Dores team is appalled to announce that our demonstration yesterday was met this morning with a vile act. This morning someone left a bag of feces on the porch of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center. The center has served as the nexus of many aspects of black life on Vanderbilt’s campus since its inception 31 years ago. The violation of a place that in many ways is the sole home for black students is deplorable.
“As many of us sit in grief, recognize that these types of actions are what we speak of when we note the reality of exclusion and isolation of students of color and specifically black students on our campus. This act has hurt many and will not be received lightly. We will not allow for the desecration of the place we call home. As we announced yesterday and reaffirm today, we will not be silent.”
Campus police launched an investigation immediately. After surveillance camera footage was reviewed, officers contacted the student who appeared to have left the bag of feces there.
“The investigation found the bag was inadvertently left by an individual with a service dog who was authorized to be in the building who could not find a trash can near the entrance and did not wish to take the bag inside. VUPD has concluded, based on their investigation, that there was no criminal or malicious intent in this action, and the investigation is considered closed,” Vanderbilt News reported yesterday.
The blind student posted her own account of what happened on Facebook:
“I would like to inform everyone on this campus that no racial threat occurred. I am a blind student on this campus with a guide dog. I was meeting with a group last night to go over our debate for one of my sociology classes. My dog did her business outside on the grass and I picked it up and put it in a bag like always … I did not want to bring the feces inside and make the building smell, so I left it outside by the door … Everyone is going to point me out now as the blind girl who left her dog feces by the black cultural center. I am sorry that I do not know where all the trash cans are on main campus…”
Leaders of the Hidden Dores campaign put a new post on its Facebook page, apologizing to the blind student, and for reacting a little too swiftly.
“Given the recent elevation in polarization on this campus in the aftermath of our silent protest this Monday, evidenced by tough personal exchanges and anonymous targeted posts, it was too easy for us to believe that a member of our community would stoop low enough to maliciously leave fecal matter at the Black Cultural Center,” the Facebook post said.
“Nonetheless, we apologize to the Vanderbilt community for jumping to conclusions and for any personal trauma caused by the quick escalation of this situation.”
(Photo: Hidden Dores Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bag, blind, demonstration, dog, dog poop, dogs, facebook, feces, guide dog, guide dogs, hidden dores, incident, investigation, pets, police, poop, race, racial inequity, racism, students, university of missouri, vanderbilt university
Dog poop is being spray painted bright orange on some forest trails in Oregon to increase public awareness of the problem — as if stepping in it doesn’t make you aware enough.
The campaign from the Oregon State University College of Forestry and local veterinarians is aimed at showing the amount of dog waste owners are leaving behind, and the potential ecological problems that could result.
Both of those are real enough concerns. But — not to question the noble efforts of organizers and volunteers — does spray painting something orange really solve anything?
If so, there are a few things (coming up in a minute) that I want to spray paint orange.
“We’ve been getting dozens of complaints from people noticing the increasing amount of poop on the trails and it’s been getting worse the last couple of years,” explained Ryan Brown, recreation and engagement program manager for OSU Research Forests. “We’re all dog lovers and dog owners and walkers of these trails and we know the opportunity to have dogs out here is super important to the community of Corvallis. And 99 percent of them are really careful and clean up after their dogs. But we want people to be aware that this is causing a lot of problems.”
“There are stream ecology studies happening in the waterways along Oak Creek and anything that gets into the water can drastically change the ecology,” Brown added. “That isn’t natural and it can really throw off the health of the streams and cause certain organisms to grow that aren’t natural to the area.”
So on Saturdays for the past month or so, volunteers had been spray painting any piles of dog poop they spot on trails with heavy duty orange paint, which really isn’t natural either.
Later — in theory, after the orange piles have made their point — volunteers return to pick up the day-glo messes.
On Saturday, about 20 volunteers picked up around 1,000 piles of poop at Oak Creek, Peavy Arboretum, Lewisburg Saddle and Calloway Creek trail, the Seattle Times reported.
I thank them for their service, but I would also note that pollution and annoyances comes in all shapes, sizes and consistencies, from all sorts of human sources, and they regularly taint our air, water and peaceful existence.
Should those get painted orange as well?
What about those signs of political candidates who leave them up for weeks, or months, after the election?
What about the ringing cellphones of people in a theater?
What about those robots who work for companies that call YOU up and ask YOU to hold for an actual representative?
What about utility and credit card companies who, while urging you to go paperless and thereby save trees, send you through the mail pounds of paperwork, credit applications, loan offers, advertising and pamphlets touting themselves?
And, while we’re at it, what about the car windshields of non-handicapped people who park in handicapped spaces, and presidential candidates who spread hate? What about handguns, or maybe just their barrels, and all the lies and bullshit spewed in the course of an average day.
Paint them all orange, I say. You know what that will bring us?
A still troubled, very orange world.
(Photo: Top photo Albany Democrat-Herald)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campaign, corvallis, dog, dogs, feces, forest, forestry, hiking, orange, oregon, oregon state university, pets, pollution, poop, public awareness, spray paint, spray-painted, trails, volunteers, waste