There have been many scientific discoveries in my lifetime. Some helpful, some not.
Certainly the fruition of John Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon should be near the top of the list. Then there was the ability to create and harness atomic energy. I'm not sure if that can be categorized as helpful or not helpful.
Another one I feel ambiguous about is television. I certainly watch my share. And I enjoy it. My husband and I always try to watch Jeopardy together, and we enjoy yelling our answers to the television. But look how television has changed family routines. Eating meals together at a table is no longer a priority. Remember the invention of TV trays? Family nights playing games? A thing of the past. Visiting neighbors in the evening or sitting on the front porch and talking with passers-by? Forget it. Why read a book when you can rent the movie and watch it at home on your television? The invention of television has contributed to a generation too lazy to read for entertainment. Why use your brain to enjoy a story when you can sit in front of the TV and have the story poured into your brain with no effort on your part?
I do think that DVRs are changing television habits for the better. No longer are we slaves to television schedules. Now we can eat dinner, visit with friends or have family time and watch our favorite television shows at our leisure. (Though I don't have a DVR, a fact which many of my friends and especially my sister view with disbelief.)
Time Magazine named the computer the Machine of the Year in 1983. I do have a computer. Someone asked me how I came up with ideas for this column and how long it took me to write one. I usually think about a subject during the week from time to time, and by the time I come to work on Tuesday, I have an idea in mind.
Once you have an idea, it doesn't take long to write a column.
And I have to say, boy, does the computer make it easier. You can write down everything you want to say free style, so to speak. Then it is so easy to go back and edit and hone your writing. Remember, I went all the way through college writing papers out by hand, scratching out and rewriting in the margins and after several edits finally typing the final version on a manual typewriter. That that process took three times as long as it would to do the same thing with a computer.
But I think the invention I utilize most is the zip-lock bag. I apologize to science teachers everywhere and to those who feel that using zip-lock bags is an ecological no-no. But my nomination for the invention most utilized in the kitchen is the zip-lock bag.
I love my zippies. Christmas dinner with three meats and 14 vegetables? No problem. Just put each food in its own zip-lock and put them in the refrigerator.
The contents flatten out and the bags can be stacked. The refrigerator can hold it all. And when it is finally eaten, there is no dish to wash. If it isn't eaten, it can cleanly go in the trash, zippy and all. You can use them to bread chicken or crush crackers.
My husband likes to garden. In the summer when he brings home the results of his labor, what we can't eat is blanched, put in a zippy and frozen.
Want to send home food to a friend or daughter? Just put it in a zippy. No worry about returning plates.
And zippies aren't just for food. They can hold all those beads from a broken necklace you intend to get restrung, money collected for whatever cause, stray buttons, bobby pins and toy parts. I use them when I pack. I put all liquids in my suitcase in a zippy so nothing will spill on my clothes. I have never done this, but you can even buy huge zippies, large enough to store blankets or quilts.
So Time Magazine, it is time your editors get in the kitchen. I nominate the zip-lock bag as Invention of the Decade.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.