May. 17th, 2017

walkitout: (Default)
It was T.'s half day. M. and I walked in the morning. I also got another 1 mile walk as well by myself. I picked him up. Since it is hot, I had iced tea at Starbucks, instead of my usual soy mocha. Then gymnastics, where he came out all red and sweaty, but otherwise cheerful.

(ETA: I repackaged the Don't Break the Ice game using rubber bands and bubble wrap to mitigate the way too interesting clattering sounds it made. T. and I stopped at the Littleton post office to mail it. He remembers going there to drop off other mail a couple years back -- good memory!)

He did his eye therapy later (with the sitter); that seems to be going slightly better.

A., R. and I went to Julie's Place. I was off on my usual rant about intersecting trends of increasing household formation (millenials are a _big_ cohort), changes in labor force participation by gender (men down slightly, women up more), increased enforcement on people who are working without having the legal right or proof that they have the legal right to work here, and a few other odds and ends. Basically, I suspect that we're entering a wave of household automation -- like many previous waves of household automation -- driven by the increasing difficulty of hiring people to do stuff for one. Previous waves have brought us indoor plumbing (no more hauling water and worse), central heating (no more hauling fuel), vacuums, dishwashers, laundry machines, electric lighting, countless small appliances, etc. Because we've managed to outsource and save some time/money/etc. by scaling up cooking (fast food / pizza / frozen meals / prepared foods at the grocery store, plus restaurants more generally) vs. doing it all on a very small scale in the home, the big remaining task would appear to be cleaning.

We've had roomba for a long while now (we're on v 3 for us), but I only started seriously using it myself less than a year ago, and it took a while to figure out the laziest way to get the house mostly presentable. I wasn't completely convinced at first that roomba was going to be a meaningful contributor to any other than get R. to quit complaining about stuff on the floor when he walked around barefoot.

Last night at dinner, it abruptly dawned on me that iRobot might be publicly traded (it is). And I already knew -- from a recent purchase -- that they had more going on than just roomba (turns out that Braava is pretty awesome). And they are big enough and have enough resources that they can grow by buying new entrants to the field as well as by internal innovation (which they are more than decent at).

I should be very clear. It would have been much better if this had occurred to me, say, a year ago. Or 6 months ago. Or, heck, even back in January. So don't view this as investment advice. It's not. But it does nestle nicely into part of my visualization of our future economy, which involves a smaller slice of the population being able to afford to hire paid domestic help than in the recent past.

While discussing this with B. (not often mentioned in this journal), he commented that he had been having trouble actually pulling the trigger on one of his possible buys, Zillow. That fits into the millenial household formation thesis, but not really the home automation thesis. It also, however, fits into a much larger thesis about disruptive technologies driven by web / mobile delivery of a service that used to be much more labor intensive. Basically, trying to make realtors go the way of travel agents. It's not that there aren't any more travel agents any more. It's just that they have a different audience, and a different set of tasks now.

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