Taming our Italian Teenager
10 February 2015 | Cuastacomate, Just North of Barra de Navidad, Mexico
For several months now we have had a troublesome teenager living with us on the boat.
She used to be quite well behaved, following instructions given to her, but recently she has taken to doing her own thing, irregardless of our very simple and clear communications. If I was doing it all again, I think I would try an American one as I believe that they are better behaved.
Our teenager's name is "Splendide" and she is our combo washer/dryer, made in Italy. Like most simple washing machines, it has a knob on the front that you turn to the cycle you want. The knob them moves through the cycle as the clothes are washed, rinsed, and spun, showing you how much is left to do. Simple.
My first beef is with the manual, obviously written in ancient Italian, before clocks existed, and only recently unearthed from some urn and then translated to English. The manual clearly says that an express wash cycle should take a total of 40 minutes. Well, not so. It actually takes about 65 minutes. Not even close. Every other cycle is way off in time as well. Sure, its a small thing, but getting the small things right should be simple, No?
Then, there is the problem of the washer randomly deciding what it wants to do when we start a wash. Let's say that we want a simple express wash. No problem, of course, as long as we are watching. But, as soon as we leave it be, the knob will spin on its own, much like a very slow and demoniacal roulette wheel, stopping in a random spot in a completely different cycle. This is true. I have caught it spinning on the odd occasion. Sometimes it goes part way around and sometimes it makes several loops before stopping in a spot of its choosing. It's best trick is to wait until the very end of the intended wash cycle, just after the clothes are spun virtually completely dry, and then to jump to the rinse mode in some other cycle so it can completely wet our clothes again. If we don't sit and watch it wash, this can happen several times in a row, burning up not only time, but lots of fuel in the generator.
To make things even more fun, we cannot open the washer door when we, as the humans supposedly in charge, decide to open the door. Supposedly this is to prevent water spillage. But, we know better. Even after we have jumped through all the hoops and have set the control knob on reset, it still makes us wait a random number of minutes before unlocking the door to our clothes.
Bill Gates and Steven Hawkings recently both discussed that they are concerned about the future of artificial intelligence and that machines, one day, may take over and control us. We know exactly what they mean.
However, it looks like I have, temporarily at least, triumphed over our temperamental little one. As is probably necessary with all teenagers from time to time, I sat down with her, face to face, and tore her apart. Then, I cleaned her up, put her back together, and gave her another chance. I also let her know that she was going to be permanently grounded, as in over the side of the boat on the bottom of the ocean grounded, if she didn't pull her weight. So far, this strategy seems to be making a difference. She is following instructions and washing our clothes just the way we request every time now.
She still won't let us open the door until she is good and ready, but I guess she is entitled to a little bit of her own personality.