1183: Rose Petals

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Rose Petals
Joke's on you--the Roomba and I had a LOVELY evening.
Title text: Joke's on you--the Roomba and I had a LOVELY evening.


This comic strip is playing with romantic movies and gestures used in them. In such movies, one often used romantic gesture is spreading rose petals in the house or apartment, making a way towards the bedroom in which a romantic interest/lover is waiting surrounded by roses for a love-making session. The joke is that these petals don't lead from the front door to the bedroom and Cueball's lover, but in the opposite direction instead from the bedroom out onto the street. It appears that someone has set up a box of rose petals and an electric fan atop a Roomba (an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner) as a method of automatically creating such a trail. The title text suggests that despite the other party's intentions of setting this up as a joke to trick Cueball, Cueball ended up having a lovely time with the Roomba.


[Cueball enters a living room, to see a line of red rose petals on the floor.]
[Cueball follows the line of rose petals.]
[Cueball observes that the line of rose petals leads out the front door, down the driveway, and along the sidewalk.]
[The rose petals leads up to a table fan behind what appears to be an inverted mailbox filled with rose petals with its back removed. Both are sitting on a Roomba which is motoring down the sidewalk. The fan is on, and is blowing the rose petals out the slit in the front of the mailbox. The contraption is making a sound and the Roomba has its brand written on it]

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Can anyone explain what Roomba is? -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roomba 09:14, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

"... but out onto the street."

Is it really? It looks to me like it's going down the hallway seen in the background of the 3rd panel.
Wwoods (talk) 16:28, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

It is, really. When you look at the door in the 3rd panel, you can see another house across the street, then closer a sidewalk, then closer the street, then closer another sidewalk and a walkway leading up to the door. There is then a mat in front of the door (presumably a welcome mat, or at least a mat for wiping your feet). In the 4th panel you can see the the sidewalk expansion joints. Haruspex (talk)

I don't think that's a mailbox. It think it's a shredder. Either way, I think what happening is that Cueball sent a woman some roses, and this is her way of rejecting his advances (which puts the image text into context) JamesCurran (talk) 17:18, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

I think the explanation James gave is potentially correct for the image text. I can see it going either of 2 ways: 1. As James mentioned above, a woman has rejected Cueball's advances. Instead of taking it badly, he turns the tables by instead takes the Roomba out on a date/whatever (and their evening together went really well, as Cueball imagined the date with the woman going). 2. He used the Roomba to satisfy his desires. On a semi-related note, why isn't the Roomba cleaning up the petals it's spraying out? It seems like the Roomba would uses it sensors to note this and head in the direction of the petals. mattsinc (talk) 19:57, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Roombas have no sensors, they just randomly zig-zag around carpets sucking up anything they run over with a relatively weak battery-operated vacuum cleaner. What I have less time believing is that a Roomba would go down the sidewalk for such a long period of time before making a crazy turn into the grass... Odysseus654 (talk) 22:10, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough. I agree then about it being incredibly unlikely that the Roomba wouldn't make an arbitrary turn at some point, unless Schmammel's point (below) about the woman reprogramming it is correct. If that's true, then I want to know where's she's programmed it to go! mattsinc (talk) 22:36, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

I like the way it steers around the books just left in the middle of the floor. Presumably it heads outside because Cueball left the door open. Or did whoever set it up use the books to ensure it left the house by precalculating its behavior? Schmammel (talk) 19:54, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Given that Cueball is walking in and the petals have already been spread, it seems more likely that Cueball didn't leave the door open, but rather the woman he was trying to woo did. I don't completely understand how Roomba's decide what directions to travel (see my question above), but your second sentence here potentially addresses it. mattsinc (talk) 20:00, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Ok, having skimmed the Wikipedia page on Roomba, the books were likely strategically placed to force it to turn, although it (presumably) could have also chosen to turn right instead of left as it did. In regards to the curb to the street, Roomba does try to avoid falling down stairs, my guess is that the curb is treated like a stair and thus the Roomba will turn left or right. Again, it probably could have chosen to turn the opposite direction when reaching the street (so yeah, probably the woman programmed its behavior, Schmammel). Nor does this explain why it wouldn't try to backtrack and clean up the rose petals it just laid. Also, isn't it totally possible that the woman would did this programmed to Roomba to lead Cueball to her at some other location? Finally, I feel like Randall should have run this one on Valentine's Day (either the 13th or the 15th since 14th wasn't MWF this year). mattsinc (talk) 20:05, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
No. I think Randall timed it rather well: roughly equidistant twixt Valentine's Day and April Fools (first of April.) -- IronyChef (talk) 15:59, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Ahh, fair enough! -- mattsinc (talk) 16:48, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

LOVELY evening with a vacuum-cleaner? What could go wrong? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15759810 -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Wouldn't there need to be some extension cord "tail" on the robo-rose-roomba to power the fan? That appears to be a full-size electric fan, which AFAIK do not come in battery-powered versions, but require 120V AC (in the US). 21:02, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

One assumes some suspension of disbelief is called for, including the reprogramming of the device mentioned elsewhere, the ability for the thing to be able to carry that much additional weight, the thought that the fan wouldn't just blow all the petals out of the hopper at one time, etc. Among that would be the elimination of an external power source. -- IronyChef (talk) 15:59, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
As far as not blowing all the petals out at the same time, that just depends upon the airflow inside the box only pushing a few of the most exit-slot-adjacent petals out at a time. Not unthrottled like raising a platter of petals up into a wind-machines airflow in just one go and seeing them all immediately fly off. Someone who can design floor obstacles to guide the pre-programmed roomba to the door (without physically shepherding it with full margins each side of its track) is probably capable of designing, testing and tuning the inward/outward venting (and perhaps internal baffles/corner-smoothers) plus fan-speed to keep the box of petals roiling around and a fairly constant number of those finding themselves at the exit slot and pushed out and up over the lip to scatter. Probably takes some effort, but not implausibly so. 20:42, 24 July 2023 (UTC)

I'm wondering where everyone is getting the assumption that the "woman" was someone that he was trying to woo--given that the rose petals are left for him and not the other way around--and not someone (a woman?) pulling a practical joke. The title text makes sense in the context of "you tried to pull a joke on me, but it turns out the joke is on you". I'm curious as to how many roses it would take to produce that many petals (I have never actually seen roses). Those assuming that he's trying to woo a woman seem to presuppose that he sent the flowers. I'm wondering if the amount of flowers it would take are an amount typical of a bouquet. 23:20, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Extrapolating beyond any facts in the strip, I could see this being one of Megan's impish pranks, taking some meaning-laden social ritual and standing it on its head. Cueball, the intended recipient of such expectations defied, instead sees it as an opportunity to see where a (literal) Random walk would take him. I knew colleagues who routinely engaged in activities such as "If I get in this lane, and follow it to its conclusion, where will I end up?" Some choices are deterministic ("right lane must turn right" or "left lane must turn left") and others random ("one lane splits into two, take the __ one"). They generally go until a destination is arrived at (typically a cul-de-sac or end of street (say, the base of a T intersection) or some other sink (a roundabout, for example) or after having gone farther than some maximum distance. -- IronyChef (talk) 15:45, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
(PS) ... The typical bouquet is 2 dozen, though 5 dozen are sometimes given. Five dozen rozes' petals plucked might begin to fill a box that size, but it could require considerably more. -- IronyChef (talk) 15:59, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

I sort of assumed the Roomba was having a fling with the computerized hamster ball, or the server, or one of the other weird pet-like devices around the house... am I wrong? 04:22, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Kind of late, but in the 3rd slide the way the roomba goes around the stack of books is the specific to the roomba (following a wall/object for a little while then leaving it), though it isn't in the explanation I think it would be a good idea to have it in there since it helps a lot to explain it. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)