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Astonishingly Good Inventions In Our Lifetime: Everyday Magic, Day 738

Updated: Sep 28

What a digital camera gives us in a flash

What a digital camera gives us in a flash


Driving through town the other day, it occurred to me how many good inventions have come about in my lifetime, from superb television shows like Call the Midwife to the awesome Philadelphia roll, the sushi equivalent of bagels and lox. Here is my list — please feel free to add your own:

  1. The Caesar Salad (okay, so it was invented in my mom’s childhood, not mine): I’m not talking about a fast food version with croutons manufactured in China, but a made-from-scratch or made-at-your-table authentic Caesar salad (anchovies and all). Throughout my second pregnancy, I craved Caesar salads so much that I ate one almost daily (and no surprise, the daughter that resulted likes them too).

  2. Cars that don’t break down and run for seemingly ever: Consider how the cars of the 1950s and 60s were prone to sudden and frequent problems, and were considered over the hill (so to speak) after 50,000 miles. Today I have a Toyota Sienna minivan in my drive with close to 250,000 miles on it that just keeps going. Friends report cars nearing 300,000 miles. Not only that, aside from some expensive repairs every year or two, many of these vehicles only have a fraction of the maintenance issues my first car, a 1969 Dodge Dart, had. Repairs may be more costly when they are needed, but I’m guessing we all spend a lot less time and money overall (with adjustments for inflation) on auto maintenance than we did in 1955 or so.

  3. The Wood Pellet Stove: We have one, and it’s a thing of warm and abiding beauty. Burning about a million times more efficiently than a wood stove, and cool enough to sit on while going full-tilt, it’s a marvel of a way to heat a house. We got ours on….

  4. Ebay, Etsy and Other Sites Making It Easy To Sell Our Stuff: Who knew we’d be able to get rid of our old stuff via a laptop, 10 minutes of time, remembering a password, and….

  5. Digital Cameras: I do love me a darkroom and the process of developing black and white film my hand, but I don’t miss taking film cannisters into town or mailing them somewhere to be developed, and then getting disappointed at how my photo didn’t capture the sparking hot pink glory of the sunset. Now I can get disappointed instantly by snapping a photo, and putting in on my….

  6. Laptop Computer: I remember begging my parents for a typewriter, the non-electric kind. I remember swooning over an electric typewriter and falling into long-term ecstasy when I had my first selectic, complete with those fabulous little metal balls of fonts. I still love typewriters, but as a writer, I sure don’t miss trying to carefully paint on and not over-cake white correcting fluid.

  7. The Widespread Availability of Hummus, Gyoza, Fajitas, Black Bean Sauce, Rice Noodles, Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala and Many Other Dishes: These foods were here for decades if not centuries, but not so abundantly available at airports, small-town grocery stores or as recipes on the internet. Now I take the burrito for granted, but as a little kid (actually, until I was 19), I didn’t know from a burrito. How did we survive for so long without such limited flavors and textures?

  8. Eye Pillows: I don’t know who invented these, but they’re wonderful for sleeping in when the sun is out or just relaxing after a hectic day. I especially like mine filled with some lavender and covered in silk, but even a cotton, rice-filled eye pillow is a godsend some days.

  9. itunes: Where else can you listen to Caryn-FM (or whoever you are-FM) for hours, each song making you want to stand up and yell, “My favorite!”

  10. Movies at Home: With DVDs, VCRs (yeah, we still have some a player), Blu-Ray, Netflix and other streaming formats, we can sit in our living rooms and watch everything from Charlie Chaplin to Sarah Silverman flicks

  11. Great Inventions With Serious Downsides: The internet and cell phones have revolutionized how we spend our time. On one hand, it’s so much easier to reach out to others, access wild and varied information, share such information, transmit photos, instructions for organizing a sit-in, recipes, songs and videos (also easier to shoot). On the other hand, all this instant access taps into our brain, and surely converts our brains into wanting more stimulus at faster speeds.

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