May 21, 2010

What I/YOU Can't Do Without?

The article below got me thinking...but I have not come to any conclusions yet. I'd like to have the discussion with all of you though. Below are two lists of supposed "must-haves." I definitely take for granted modern day conveniences -- like electricity and indoor plumbing but electric-garage door openers? -- we don't even have a garage -- hot pockets? -- that's a joke right? -- but the man does have a point about how many of us depend on convenience food.
I'll be working on my list of top 10 essentials; what are yours?

U.S. News and World Report recently listed 10 things that Americans just can't do without, ranging from laptops to lattes. This caused me to think about what I would be loathe to give up. While I can't quibble with most of the magazine's selections (below), there are at least 10 other strong candidates for 21st century essentials, in my opinion.

My candidates for the top 10 must-haves are:
1. Electric garage door opener: When I was a boy, my dad had an early version of the garage door opener; me. He'd lay on the horn until I came out and lifted the door. Now is better.
2. The automobile: Yes, this is Bike to Work Week, but that's only because having it in February would only reinforce how much we cherish our precious four-wheeled transportation.
3. Hot Pockets: Imagine living back in the dark ages where juices could escape from between the bread slices of a sandwich.
4. Electricity: Last year, power in our neighborhood went out for three days. Three days without NCIS, without cold beer, without Facebook, without an electric garage door opener, telephone many Americans would be down with that?
5. Credit: Look at the original 10 items below. How many would you be able to enjoy if you weren't extended credit, if only the credit of being permitted to pay monthly and after the fact?
6. Remote controls: for my TV, DVD, Blu-Ray, stereo, lights, car ignition, fans and more, these remote controls move me even closer to my goal of total entropy.
7. Air-conditioning: America smells a great deal fresher than it did in 1960, and we can thank air-conditioners (although Febreze would like to take the credit.) You can take mine when you pry my cold, dead fingers from the A/C knob.
8. Baseball: For those who feel that life is passing by all too quickly, a baseball game will demonstrate that even a mere two hours can be made to seem like an eternity.
9. Plumbing: Truthfully, now: which would you give up first, a smart phone or a flushing toilet? If the former, I hope we don't live in the same neighborhood.
10. Go-cups: If only one American crotch is saved from a hot-coffee shower, the go-cup will have earned its place in grab-and-go heaven.

Compare those with the original U.S. News and World Report ten things we couldn't do without (and Walletpop's comments):

1. Portable computers: If we didn't have these, we'd have to TALK to other people at Starbucks.
2. High-speed Internet access: Because nothing sucks like waiting for porn to load.
3. Smart phones: Don't you feel at least a little uneasy carrying a phone that's smarter than you are?
4. Education: Without which, you might have trouble finding a job. Oh, you have a degree and still, no job? Just debt?
5. Movies: Because with comic books you have to go through the labor of turning pages.
6. TV: Without TV, who would tell the Fox nation who to despise?
7. Music downloads: Paying for tunes is SO 20th century.
8. Pets: With a declining birthrate, the U.S. needs another dependable source for cute. I searched "Kitty" on YouTube; 104,000 videos available.
9. Booze: To make 2, 3, 5, and 6 more amusing, and 4 more tolerable.
10. Coffee: Because crack is so declassé.

See full article from WalletPop


  1. Well, assuming that the 10 essentials are not things like family, friends, spiritual sustenance and such, but modern conveniences:

    I have been playing my collection of vinyl records, and remembering and pondering the lifestyle that involved changing the record every 25 min. or so, carefully, cleaning them sometimes, rarely skipping or choosing individual songs, and of course never thinking of this as a burden…

    My list? (off the top of my head, not in order, and not 10)
     Pay at the pump gas—wish they’d had it when my kids were really little…but then again, in NJ they pump your gas.
     Netflix—and all the technology surrounding.
     internet, email—Being a student again after all these years really forces a comparison. And of course they make living in the country so much better.
     Word processing—I STILL can’t type…made sure I didn’t learn back in the day, because I was afraid I’d do nothing else. I paid people to type my papers in grad school the first time around. Now the whole world types…
     (semi) affordable, reliable cars/ fast highways—the difference between a rural lifestyle now and even 50 years ago is striking, and much of it is because we have the mobility to overcome some of the isolation and other disadvantages. Of course, like everything else, it comes with a huge down side.
     I hate cell phones as they are used 90% of the time, and the way they have changed communication and expectations bothers me, but they are a godsend the other 10% of the time.
     Microwave ovens—I read in the TriTown News this week that God likes crockpots better than microwaves, and I may agree, but they really have revolutionized the use of leftovers as well as hard frozen bricks of foods from the freezer. But the down side—eating alone has become too easy.
     EZ Pass—so handy, but it takes away interaction—how strange has it been to witness the phenomenon of increasing isolation and lack of necessary contact in transacting the business of life, juxtaposed with ubiquitous communication in the form of cell phones and such.
     ATMs and credit cards that can be used almost anywhere (now even fast food restaurants!?) The day grocery stores started taking credit cards was a good day for me. It took me a long time to start using ATMs, but the days of worrying about getting to the bank on time, running out of cash with 2 hungry children in tow—nice to have that all in the past. (FYI, I maintain a relatively debt-free lifestyle—it’s the convenience I like.)
     coffee makers—While I wax nostalgic every power outage when I pull out the percolator to use after I light the gas stove, the ubiquity of fresh coffee, my favorite addition, is a blessing in my life.
     I just spent the afternoon without electricity, so that may have to get on my list, but honestly, if it weren’t for the pump on the well, I wouldn’t mind too much.

    It was interesting to compile this list!

  2. I can't complain about number one on the list. As long as Americans need Garage Door openers I'll always have work, lol. Thank goodness for electricity and the invention of these contraptions.

  3. wow -- i am more amused that you probably googled garage door openers and then left this comment with your link...then i am amused by the sense that someone would write that garage door openers are indispensable (considering i don't own one...and don't have a garage either!)