By Jack Sparacino
While enjoying a piece of (you guessed it) sliced bread recently, it occurred to me that mankind really has made progress lately, despite all the doom and gloom in the news. We’ve been fortunate, it seems, to have had so many great inventions and product developments make our lives better. Or at least more interesting. In the spirit of the holiday season, here’s my list, from best to even better, and I’m sure you’ve got yours. Maybe we can compare notes.
10. Microwave ovens. I first encountered one of these interesting gadgets while on line for a late snack in college years ago. There we were, on the ground floor of an archaic cement block dormitory, and a customer just ahead of me was served a hot dog heated up for him in just a few seconds. Holy mackerel, er, hot dog! Seemed like magic to 20 year old me. Today we take them for granted and their relative cost has come down nicely, plus they’re designed for more versatile cooking, not just nuking a potato or boiling water. Why a friend recently told me she uses her microwave to steam open oysters!
9. Almond M&M’s. Like almonds? Like chocolate? Been doing nice things for others lately? Then it’s time to find a bag to share, these are just too good to leave on the shelf.
8. Large print books. Where in the world have these things been all my life? (Yes, we actually had these in kindergarten, complete with pictures, but you know what I mean.) I LOVE being able to read a (grown-up) book without squinting and without needing perfect lighting conditions. Now how about large print everything else?
7. Cell phones. This is a tough “call” since they are easily misused, overused, lost, and a potential source of dangerous distractions. But it’s become difficult to imagine life without them, especially when you’re stranded in a remote area and need help. Or you want to order a pizza on the fly. Smart phones have turned a cute little gizmo into a modern day must-have.
6. Mapquest, GPS and related high tech ways to find out how to get somewhere. Anywhere. Even though I think they’ve taken 55% (I did the math) of the fun out of getting lost, since there’s not as much of an excuse for it anymore and you can miss some neat stuff that wasn’t on your route. Mind you, I can still get lost at the drop of a hat. Any hat.
5. Sneakers. How can you enjoy the Lowcountry to the fullest without having something really comfortable on your feet? Sneakers don’t have to be expensive, they come in cool colors, and are machine washable. (I admit they make a racket in the dryer.) Want to look like a celebrity? Wear them with a suit.
5a. Hair gel. Just kidding. Wanted to see if you were paying attention!
4. Online shopping. You name it and it’s available on the internet. Don’t want to leave your house or get out of your pajamas? Want tons of choices? Want to charge it? Just point and click and away you go.
3. Air conditioners. Now this invention was an absolute game changer, especially for people trying to live comfortably in hot and humid climates like ours. Willis Carrier, born in 1876 in Angola, N.Y., for you history buffs, should have more statues dedicated to him and his fabulous invention, which saw its first installation when he was all of 26 years old.
2. Google’s search engine (in an absolute SQUEAKER over #3). Anyone who’s got a computer and can get on the internet now has easy access to an almost unimaginable amount of information on just about any conceivable subject under the sun, moon, stars, or surface of the ocean. It’s almost too easy now to find and learn something quickly. Almost.
1. All the amazing new medical technology now used to diagnose and treat everything from minor fractures to cancer. Just imagine turning the clock back a couple hundred years and you really don’t feel well, why it’s enough to make you sick when you contemplate what you would have been up against. Then consider all that’s available to help you today.
There. Ten wonderful new things to be grateful for. Life is good. Pass the bread, please. And happy holidays!
By Jack Sparacino