Gadgets I’ve Wanted… and Gadgets I’ve had
By Jeff Salter
Our Wednesday Fox wanted to know about our favorite gadgets. Hmm. As usual, my answer will be in multiple parts.
Let’s Define Terms
As did Patricia (our Monday Fox), I started out seeking a definition of our topic. She consulted the dictionary. I checked Google. What I found out is that the accepted concept of “gadget” these days refers to all the whiz-bang electronic devices and what I’ve come to think of as typical household appliances. But, let’s face it, folks — gadgets (I mean REAL gadgets) are just gizmos, doodads, and whatchamacallits. Or, as Patricia noted, thingamabobs.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
As usual, I need to add a disclaimer here. I love – and often use – things like microwaves, calculators, and (formerly) VCRs [now DVDs]. And, of course, my desktop computer. But despite prevailing wisdom of Wiki and Google, those aren’t gadgets — they’re conveniences, which quickly became essentials… and are now part of our very lifeblood. Whereas gizmos and doodads are objects which have captured our interest and imagination! [Even if they’re not actually essential to our daily existence.]
A Gadget I Wanted (But Never Had)
Remember those hokey TV ads in about 1964 for the K-Tel Veg-O-Matic? It slices, it dices, etc. As I sit here tying this blog, I still don’t understand why I was so attracted to the Veg-o-Matic. I mean, I did little to no cooking back then… and not much more even now. I certainly don’t NEED a device that chops up veggies. Truth be told, I don’t actually care for most veggies, to begin with. So why was I drawn to those hokey ads? I think it’s because they made meal preparation seem like FUN. Had I comprehended (then) more about actual meal preparation, I doubt I would have been so captivated by that flimsy little gadget of plastic and some strips of wire or bedded aluminum blades. But I was. I no longer recall how much they originally cost, but if it was more than ten cents, my parents wouldn’t have bought one. Back then we were a one-income household and my dad’s annual salary (as a hospital protestant chaplain) was around $5000 … within a few dollars of what the starting underpaid school teachers made at that time.
In one sense, I guess this is the whole enchilada of the TV advertising business: show us something we had never thought of, that we don’t really need, and (through repetition and context) make it look so inventive or indispensable that we’ll bust a gut to acquire one. And price it at $19.99 plus shipping and handling.
The one type of gadget that I have been able to acquire over the years falls under the general heading of nifty hand tools and/or attachments for same. No room (or time) here to list them all, but one of my favorites is a stud-finder. You slip these magnetic discs into a plastic holder and lightly pass the felt-backed holder over the area of the wall that you’re interested in. Lo and behold, the magnet discs seize hold of a nail head (through the half-inch wallboard!) and that disc remains there while you hunt for its neighbors… 16 inches on either side. Now you and I both know that there’s a hundred ways of locating the studs in the wall. But none are as much FUN as this one. It will definitely be my nominee for Garage Gadget of the Year.
What about YOU? Have you got a favorite gadget?
[JLS # 405] — corrected