Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I am not normally, with a few exceptions, a big fan of technology. It has been my observation that many of the things that are touted as labor saving devices actually make our lives worse in some obvious way.

There are many items that I feel should never have been invented. Cell phones generally top this list but there are others. Most of these, strangely enough, tend to be kitchen gadgets. Maybe the world has become so Ronco'd that everybody needs more than a knife, unless it is a "Ginsu" to "slice, dice and make Julian Fries." Or maybe I'm just not very up-to-date.

Once you get beyond cell phones; electric carving knives and electric can-openers along with food processors and expresso machines top the list of bad technology. Goofy peeler's and sandwich-makers, Popcorn-makers, microwave egg cookers and bread-machines are also some of my least favorite things. These items take more time to setup, cleanup and put-up, cut with, chop, brew or knead bread than doing the same thing without them.

Sometimes, as in the case of the electric carving knife they appear to be outright dangerous and in the case of the electric can-opener are simply an exercise in laziness. Not to mention that many times they remove not only the tedium but the fun parts of the activity they supposedly relieve us of. Other times they simply seem to add work rather than save labor in which case I ask: "What's the point?"

I am, it seems normally more vocal in speaking out about the bad technology than I am fond of praising the good. I don't know why that is but it is so. Maybe I just expect things to work.

I do, however, also have a list of items that actually have made life easier or better. Oddly enough, most of my favorite technology items are also kitchen related. I guess I am just obsessed with food. Many of the items on this list are quite old inventions such paper, ballpoint pens and canned food. However, the microwave oven, the electric light and mechanical processes like lathing and grinding by other than animal power are also included as are the washing machine and the clothes dryer.

I also have some items like computers and televisions that I am ambivalent about. Sometime I like them and sometimes I don't.

My list of favorite technology recently changed. I used to put the microwave oven as my favorite thing. I am, when I want to be an excellent cook. Much better than my wife but I am also somewhat lazy. Thus, the microwave has been a favorite of mine for it's quick and easy heating and reheating for years. But, the microwave has fallen to number two. Number one is a new item and one that I must admit I'd over looked for too long. The refrigerator.

When you look at what refrigeration has done to change the world it is a simply amazing invention. How many deaths have been prevented by refrigeration? Probably millions. Think of the cases of food poisoning that haven't happened because food was kept too cold for germs to grow in! Is there anything more refreshing than a cold drink on a hot day? Related to this would be airconditioning and that is another favorite thing.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online the origin of refrigeration can be traced to a cat named Carl von Linde who invented a feasible way of liquefying gases. The compression and expansion of gases is the heart and soul of a refrigeration system. What an absolutely wonder invention.

I think I'll stroll over to my family frig' and open cold one in honor of Carl von Linde.

Until next time
Fai Mao
The Airconditioned and refrigerated Blogger

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