Some things just don’t need improving

A few days ago Phil wrote about a “why not before” invention. If you click on the link provided, you’ll find a truly beautiful ceramic toaster of a novel design. Now, I will be the first to admit that from an aesthetic standpoint, this toaster is truly lovely. I didn’t see the demo, but looking at the picture, it seems to me there are a few potential flaws in the operation of this device.

It looks like the toast feeds slowly through a bar like one of those pen-style photo scanners. I’m not a physicist, certainly, but it seems to me that one of two things is required: either you toast the bread at impossibly hot temperatures, changing its fundamental characteristics, or by the time the last part is toasted, the first part is too cold to melt “yellow death” (butter, for the uninitiated). Either of these two things would be unacceptable to me.

Besides, why is there this insane drive to keep reinventing items that work perfectly well? I give you my toaster as an example.

I know people used to toast bread on forks, and I’d submit that my toaster is a significant improvement. But I’ll bet the patent on it dates back to at least the early 20th century. Admittedly, it takes a little more attention than the electric models with built-in sensors, but it also only cost about $10 new and operates for an incredibly long time (I did pretty well burn one up beyond usefulness, but that was after 20 years–that’s how I know how much a new one costs).

Here’s what it looks like:


It works on both my wood and gas fires and produces very good toast (please forgive the fuzziness of this picture–Ben ate the toast before I discovered the picture was so out of focus).


So let’s devote this inventiveness to some useful purpose, like a microbe that will thoroughly clean the dishes without removing them from the table. THAT would be useful. Think of all the time saved in not getting the dished out of the cupboard, serving the food, carrying them to the sink, washing them, putting them away again, and then starting all over.

10 Responses to “Some things just don’t need improving”

  1. MoskerVenice Says:

    But isn’t the real test Poptarts?


  2. mklekacz Says:

    David, what a fabulous link! The Proctor-Silex model is almost identical to the one I took to the last two summer residencies. I liked it (and both Kitty and Jensea liked it as well) because it would toast split bagels without a hassle. I have bequeathed it to Kitty to take next summer.

    But PopTarts? I have to confess my toaster probably wouldn’t do those without dripping raspberry syrup all over my white stove top. But that’s way too much sugar for me, anyway. And I don’t like all the chemical flavors they inject into them. . .I’d like to pretend to be noble, but the truth is, they just don’t taste good.

  3. Brent Says:

    They have the dishwashing thing down as well; it is called a dog 🙂

    I have an English question I need your expertise on; I have a controller here that says “in regards to…” and it drives me CRAZY! Shouldn’t it be “with regard to..”?

  4. mklekacz Says:

    Brent, the “little white book” doesn’t seem to address this issue. My personal opinion is that you can probably use either preposition (with, in). The real problem is the “s.” In noun form, “regard” is attention, “regards” is a favorable opinion of someone or something. Having wandered through that, certainly “with” would be the preferred preposition–“with attention to.”

    Just my $.02 worth. Someone else may have a different answer.

  5. Phil Ferris Says:

    I have responded in a post on my blog.



  6. Phil Ferris Says:

    I nearly forgot, I have a toaster just like yours, for use my camping stove.

    I do appraciate what you say, my favourite writing implement is one of my fountain pens from the 1930s. I like the way my brain can keep up when I am scripting.

  7. mklekacz Says:

    Phil, just a quick thought after reading your note about fountain pens (which I have always loved)–

    I keep two special pens. One is very fat, fits well in my hand, and I use it for drafting poems. One is very thin. I use it for editing. . .

  8. Phil Ferris Says:

    I have something of a grasshopper mind and my interests over the years have been many; unfortunately most do not last for long. Two things that have been with me from any early age are reading and writing particularly with fountain pens.

    I have a number of favourite pens and a bunch I haven’t used enough. There are three I get most pleasure from, one is a Parker 51 I bought from Germany and a pair of iridescent red and a blue Waterman pens with the most wonderful flex nibs
    Strangely, that produces my best calligraphic effort is one of the cheapest pens I own. It’s a simple modern Parker with just a medium width nib. I say strangely, as many people assume that either it is something decided by expense or age. There is no doubting that the workmanship on my vintage pens far exceeds that of the more modern but, for me, it’s all about the quality of what I can produce.

    If you asked me what one of my long time wishes for future computing would be, I would say a pen input device with the look and feel of a fountain pen. Though how the wet look of freshly laid dark black ink (I use Aurora Black) in light light of the fire can be recreated I have no idea.

  9. Phil Ferris Says:

    Take care with those pens Marianne, I just came across a piece in a newspaper:

    Accidents with swords: 140 Accidents with pens: 2,706

    it’s a jungle out there.

  10. mklekacz Says:

    Phil. most of my accidents with pens have to do with the success or failure of words on the page. They’re generally not life-threatening. . .;^}

    And I don’t own a sword, but we do have several machetes–much more dangerous, but very effective for certain brushing tasks.

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