Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Technology


Do you ever marvel at how well a simple household gadget works? I am in awe of the dehumidifier in my basement. Damn, if the thing doesn't fill up with water every day. How does it do it? I have no idea, but I know dumping that water out every morning is a good thing. Can you imagine the amount of water in the air if I didn't do it? Or does removing the water only allow new water to form? Whatever, I am awestruck.

What gadget does its job for you? (And I am actually interested in this--it's not a desperation topic)

25 comments:

Richard R. said...

In my experience, the most reliable home appliance is the toaster. Not a toaster oven, a regular old been-around-since grampa-days, push-down, pop up toaster. They last for decades, do what they are supposed to do and require little maintenance (crumb removal once in a while). A hand-crank pencil sharpener is right up there too, but I doubt many people have them anymore. Do people (besides carpenters) even use pencils? I do. A third item is the old fashioned light bulb.

With most of the other stuff, it has become more complicated, with more "features", and that means more to go wrong. Take computers, for instance... hard drives only last a while...

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - We really don't think about appliances, but yes, they are vital. For me, it's the coffeemaker. If I stop to think about it, I am in awe of the way it's designed so that with very minimal effort on my part, my morning coffee is ready for me every single day. What a comfort!

Cullen Gallagher said...

Clocks! Either digital or analog or wind-up. No clue how they manage to stay on time day after day.

pattinase (abbott) said...

As unbelievable as this might sound, we have had at least ten toasters over the course of our marriage and all of them failed us in some way. Some fairly quickly. Maybe we buy ones that are too cheap.
Since I don't drink coffee and my husband drinks instant, we have all kinds of trouble when we try to make real coffee for guests--or with the ones in hotel rooms where we flood the stand.
Clocks are great-although I often screw up the alarms.
And the light bulb is disappearing as we speak. So I guess I vote for pencil sharpeners although we have never been able to mount one on the wall that didn't pull off the plaster or fall off. You are talking with inept people here.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good question. the tools scientists use often amaze me, and how much they can understand of the world with them.

Fleur Bradley: said...

For me, it's the three-way lightswitch--the kind where you can turn a light on at one end of the hall, and turn it off at the other end, or vice versa. I wired one of these in my basement, and it works. But I'm still amazed.

George said...

I like your humidifier example, Patti (I have 2 big ones in my basement). But the appliance I'm in awe of is one we use every day: the microwave. We couldn't function without it.

Richard Prosch said...

For me it's the simple, basic transistor. I imagine if you could go back in time, you could get intelligent folks (Galileo or DaVinci for example) to understand most machines we use today, like cars, airplanes, even early radios and TVs that used vacuum tubes. But I think it's with the transistor, a tiny hunk of magic ceramic, that they'd burn you as a witch.

Chris said...

I tend to prefer, even love, the simplest of tools. I have a ruler on my desk I've used for years; not just for ruler things, but it makes a great back-scratcher, arm-extender for pressing the buttons on the switch on my desk that allows me to change which computer my monitor/mouse/keyboard is attached too, and it is also a useful tool for playing with the cat who likes to get right up in my grill.

I like a good bottle opener. I like a sturdy hand axe. And simple cutlery -- spoons, knives, forks -- that are solid with a little heft and won't bend with the slightest resistance like most cheap cutlery will these days.

Oh, and I absolutely LOVE the big, cast iron frying pan I bought Julia for Christmas several years ago. It's the only one we've used ever since.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now Chris sounds like an Abbott.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Richard, I didn't even know they still made transistor radios.

Randy Johnson said...

Richard beat me to it. And I'm sorry about your problems with toasters, Patti. My mother gave me the one we used when I was growing up and it still is going strong. Though on the odd occasion It will burn the toast. I have a newer model sitting in the pantry waiting for this one to die.

I may have to drive a stake through it's heart.

Rob Kitchin said...

Hammer and saw - can get a lot done with just those two. Keys and locks are pretty handy. Simple tin opener is a classic piece of simple, but useful design. I've done studies where we've done audits of the technologies in peoples homes. Some people get by with very little, almost all of it analogue; others have all kinds of (digital) crap which usually ends up in the all kinds of crap drawers or boxes in the attic, garage, basement. The amount of redundancy in gadgets these days is phenomenal. Mobile phones, cameras, etc are a 12 month replace and throwaway item. Hmmm (says the person whose new phone is on order when the one he has works perfectly well).

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes a basement full of things like creme makers and panini presses. I've been there. There are some things in my kitchen still being used that my grandmother gave me from her kitchen. And our main hammer belonged to my husband's family.

Evan Lewis said...

I do my best NOT to think of all the moving parts and crazy processes required to move an automobile - that thing I trust my life to every day. But when I do think about it, I'm amazed (and further disturbed by) how little the basic invention has changed since the days of the Model T.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The greatest contribution to the 21st century would be to come up with a cheap, clean, available alternate to oil.

MP said...

My most astonishing appliance is a Panasonic microwave that I bought in the mid-80s that still works quite well, thank you. That's 25 years ago, an astonishing amount of time for something like that to work. It really doesn't get used a lot, but it's a rare day that it doesn't get used at all. During that same period of time I've gone through at least six coffee makers.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not technoglogy, but I have a sofa that I have had for thirty years and it still looks brand new, or at least it does to me. I sent the manufacturer a picture of it a few years back.

Richard Prosch said...

Patti, the old "transistor radios" were so named to capitalize on the then-novelty of mobility. The transistor is still the ubiquitous bedrock of most electronic devices, albeit it more developed and frequently embedded in integrated circuits. In effect, our radios today are still "transistor radios" but it would be a redundancy to say so, akin to saying "Color TVs" or "Talking Motion Pictures."

Travis Erwin said...

The internet and it's capabilities still amazes me the most.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I'll go with my refrigerator. Storing food and keeping it fresh was a problem for Man for centuries, but now it's simple and relatively cheap. Better yet, it's an appliance, which I thought was the gist of this question.

Chris said...

I came up with one that plugs in this morning: the juicer. We've been grinding fruit and vegies into juice almost every morning now for several months, and it has been great. Today, for example, I made two glasses of juice (one each for Julia and me), each of which contained the following:

- apple
- grapefruit
- beet
- kale
- chard
- carrot

It's delicious, and the difference it's made me feel is incredible. We go through bags and bags of fruits and greens like we never have before. It's easy to set up, easy to clean, and I'm always amazed. Finally, the scraps go out into my compost bin, and from there into our garden beds. It's awesome.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

A friend said it required so many apples/carrots/etc. to make one glass of juice it wasn't economical.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

For me it would have to be glasses--as in corrective lenses. (Prescription goggles are also pretty fantastic, although less useful on a daily basis.)

arshad said...

Hi its really very nice blog,very useful information..Mobiles