UP IN SMOKE!

First, a Hurricane Dorian Update since it was the topic of my last posting…Lucky us, we may have dodged a bullet as the latest tracking has Dorian heading north.  This means we will not get the brunt of the storm, only tropical winds and rain which we should be able to handle.  It still means we  have to prepare the house, bring everything in from outside and make sure we are prepared for a power failure, two or three.  Those north of us will not be as fortunate.  We wish them good luck and be safe.

*****

smoking cigarette on black background

As I continue to pack things up for the big move, two blog postings ago I shared an article from a 1946 copy of LIFE Magazine.  I have a few others in my collection and I thought you may get a kick–as I did–seeing some of the advertising that was featured in LIFE back in the ’40s and ’50s. The cigarette ads are particularly amusing–and sad–given the number of  people who still smoke today.  Here are a few smokey examples.  This first one featuring a doctor was the best…

DrAd

EmbassyAd

 

 

 

I don’t remember Embassy Cigarettes.  It must not have been a very popular brand, despite the heartfelt encouragement of its advertising.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Old Gold’s response to some of the early medical concerns about smoking…

OldGoldAd

And here’s a last bit of puffery that’s close to my heart, given my career in broadcasting…

CamelAd

I smoked my last cigarette in 1976.  It took me years and multiple attempts to quit before I finally made it.  Given all the publicity about the harmful effects of smoking that are now well established, I still remain amazed at the number of young people who give it a try, get hooked and fail to give it up….humans are a funny breed.

*****

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GONE WITH THE WIND …an unexpected part of our Big Move series.

We are moving soon.  You know that if you’ve been following Marc’s Blog lately.  As items for discussion come up, they are presented here…as is today’s posting….

DorianCone

I don’t mind practical jokes, but when it’s Mother Mature instigating them, it may not be so funny.  As luck would have it, Dorian is headed our way, give or take a few hundred miles.  Dorian is a hurricane.  She wasn’t supposed to be.  She was supposed to be a tropical storm, a weather condition a lot easier to deal with. So okay, we’ve lived in Hurricane Alley long enough to “get it” and we should be prepared.

Normally at this time of year we are well stocked with hurricane supplies.  There’s a box of canned goods and other packaged foods to feed us for a few days with or without power.  And if the latter is the case, I crank up the generator and give an outlet to each neighbor for their fridge so they don’t complain about the noise the generator makes.  We gas up the gas cans and the car, store water and make sure we have enough candles, flashlights and batteries.  That is the basic drill.  Depending on your wind tolerance you can embellish it with a lot more items.

We were brushed by famed Hurricane Andrew but suffered far less than our neighbors to the south.  We were hit badly only once.  That was in 2005 with Hurricane Wilma.  We had lots of trees down, fences blown over and our roof was ripped apart.  There was over $30,000 worth of damage to our property which didn’t unnerve me half as much as I lie in bed during the storm’s peak and listened to the beams in the attic creaking loudly as the winds blasted the upper sides of the house.  It was pretty scary.

So now, along comes Dorian right when we are preparing to put the house on the market.  Any damage to the house could be a serious deficit, both in cost and time needed for repair.   And guess who isn’t prepared?  Yep, us! I sold the generator; we haven’t shopped for food supplies, all closets are packed up, meaning I’d have to start ripping open boxes to get to the candles, flashlights, matches, etc.

So I figure if we are to be hit head-on by a hurricane, now’s the time with so much of our guard down. It’s the perfect storm!  I shall attempt to remain positive and wish away this storm–far away.  But I can’t help but look at all the packed up boxes, the threatening weather forecast and our lack of readiness and think the approach of Dorian certainly paints the picture gray.

*****

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WHAT DREAMS WERE MADE OF

LifeCovI do not remember where I was on November 25, 1946.  Afterall, I was only a few months past my first birthday.  But thanks to my dad’s sense of history he put away that week’s edition of LIFE Magazine, its tenth anniversary issue.  Lucky me,  I still have it.

For the younger readers of Marc’s Blog, LIFE was America’s formost picture magazine. It arrived weekly at hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of mailboxes from 1936 through December 1972.  It was literally a weekly graphic representation–a snapshot–of what was going on in America and elsewhere around the globe.

This particular issue commemorates the past decade of LIFE’s life and looks ahead to the future.  For me, personally, it’s a real hoot given its depictions of the times and events of my very first year. As such, one specific article caught my attention.  It features “The American Dream” as it existed in 1946.  The  piece is highlighted by a full double page photograph of what items “most U.S. families” included in their dreams…most of which were materialistic. Here are some of the wishes that dreams were made of in 1946: “a trim colonial house on a generous plot…a convertible station wagon, $2,890…automatic washing machine, $241…an electric stove, $266…an aluminum ladder, $22.”  And yes, as seen in the picture, dreamed about was even the family helicopter…at $48,500.   Perhaps if I had priced my aluminum ladder at $22 at my garage sale last week, it may have sold.  My asking price of $85 had left it still leaning against the wall inside my garage.  See if anything here is in your dreams….

dream

LIFE also broke the dreams down by sex.  You can ponder the two pictures below to see what his and her dreams were made of 73 years ago.  Oh how times have changed…as have dreams.  (I am sorry the pictures aren’t better quality; I dreamed they’d be better!)

lady2A WOMAN’S DREAM in 1946 would probably include most or all items in this picture, which cost about $1,000,000.  Among costliest are a lace dressing gown, $595. a diamond necklace, $330,000, and emerald ring. $300,000, all worn by the  model; sable wrap. $75,000, and mink evening coat, $10,000, both behind her; emerald necklace, $75,000 , and black evening gown (on bed), $625.”

Meanwhile “…A MAN’S DREAM in 1946, when people seem to want more outdoor living and sports than ever before, runs heavily to sporting goods and includes the parka and trousers worn by the model, $85; his rubber boat, $70; 12-gauge shotgun, $562; tennis racker, $22; steel fly rod and reel, $45; snowshoes, $18; golf bag and clubs, $203; bicycle training device, $79; bow and arrow set. $33.”

mandream

Given my age and probable state of mind at the time LIFE celebrated its tenth anniversary, I suspect the only thing I was dreaming about back then was a frantic search for my pacifier and would somebody pullllllease change my diaper.

*****

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THE GREAT GARAGE SALE…part of The Great Move Series

garagesalegraphicOur Great Move continues…

I  have packed more boxes and made more repairs to things that were either broken or needed to look better.  Part of the moving process is to seriously purge whatever is no longer needed, desired or could be a deal-breaker.  The procedure has been three-fold.  Whatever is touched goes in one of three categories:  pack up and include in the move, throw it out or save it for the garage sale.  Yesterday was the garage sale.

This was my first garage sale.  It was my last garage sale.  It is all a bit too exhausting, but worth the effort, at least once.  Gagage sales have a culture all their own.  The people who attend them regularly are very much a part of the culture.  This is a species of humans obsessed with garage sales.  Their entire week is devoted to monitoring the garge sale advertising media for the upcoming Saturday’s list of garage sales. They  accumalate a list of locations and times and by Saturday morning they have developed a game plan as to which ones to “hit” and in what order. This is almost a science if not a finely tuned, well honed procedure. 

From my end, setting the bait was quite easy.  I Googled “where to advertise garage sales” and up came the usual list of a gazillion choices.  I selected one and one only.  Its service was free.  What I did not know at the time was that this particular website was linked to others with the same mission.  Within seconds of completing my sign-up with the website I began receiving e-mails from other website “welcoming” my advertising.  Eventually, I must have had 4-5, maybe more, websites advertising my upcoming garage sale…all free.  And, likewise, the garage sale attendees immediately sprung into action.  

I began receiving e-mails requesting more details beyond what appeared in my ad.  One person suggested I call her back at the number she provided so we could discuss her needs exclusively–I assume they were needs related to what I was selling at my garage sale.  Another person was willing to give me $50 if he could come the day before for a private showing.  Every day my e-mail was peppered with questions and requests. Fortunately,  I walked away from advertising for a minimum three-day run in the big city newspaper that wanted $80 for the opportunity.  Hey, I had gotten plenty of publicity for $0.  Beware, however, not all respondees follow through.  I  had several interested in buying out an entire category of goods, my radio collection for example, who failed to follow through, let alone even show up.

Thursday evening before Saturday’s main event, I held a “prep party.”  Two incredbily generous friends joined Rosemarie and me for dinner after which we attacked all the goods that were stacked up in my livingroom.  These all needed to be sorted, dusted off and priced.  I had purchased a “Garage Sale Kit” on amazon that provided lots of signage with stick posts, a “how-to” booklet and a gazillion little round neon-colored price stickers.  It took us the rest of the evening to complete the task.  Eveything was placed on tables set up in the garage. Then, come Saturday morning, all we basically had to do was carry the tables out onto the driveway.

Several things to be prepared for:  people arrive early.  Have a barricade set up to keep them out so they aren’t in your way while you are setting things up.  Next, be prepared to haggle.  No one wants to pay the sticker price so consider that tip when you set prices from the git-go.  Also, depending on the size of  your sale, be prepared to have enough people to help you.  There will be large surges of customers to deal with and you will definitely need others to help you if you want sales to go smoothly.

And finally, expect all kinds to people to show up.  Some are perefectly normal…others not.  Some will spend an inordinate amount of time on various items and eventally leave without buying anything.  Others will talk on forever, telling you their life’s story and expect a free therapy session in return, regardless of what you know about therapy.  And, oh yes, you will never sell everything so make sure your wonderfully committed friends stay afterwards because you will have to clean up and decide what to do with all the leftovers.

Okay, garage sale done…Monday the rug cleaners come…Tuesday I reseal the driveway….Wednesday I install a new timer to replace the broken one that dictates which part of the sprinkler system waters which part of the lawn and for how long. The list continues but I am forever getting closer to the goal:  putting the house on the market!  Carry on!

*****

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TIME SPIRALS

I’ve had little time of late to simply settle into my thinking chair on the back patio and ponder whatever comes to mind.  The big move we are undertaking has kept me busy filling boxes and checking off items on a never-ending to-do list.  Time is being consumed at an excellerated rate as I race to complete the move within a self-imposed deadline.  There’s that word again…time!

Time is my biggest hang-up. There is no stopping it.  How fast I wished it would go when I was an anxious child always wanting to be older, be one of the big kids.  Most of my adult life I did not pay it much attention.  I just followed through every tick, every tock taking each for granted that there’d always be one following the other. How wasteful!  And now…well, now that I am in my 70’s, time looms over everything I do, or so it seems.

I have become super alert to the passing of every day, attempting now to seriously make the most of each one.  It follows that I would want to clean up any messes I’ve left behind, mend any fences broken, finish what’s been left undone.  But these are daunting tasks and they are burdens some of which I placed upon myself, others having been thrust upon me from alternative sources. Trouble is, some messes can’t be cleaned up, some fences can’t be repaired and some unfinished things are best left alone.  It is how life is meant to go…not always perfect and certainly not always the way you want it.

This is where all the what-if’s come in, along with the regrets and guilt. But it’s not all negative.  There are things that went well, brought joy and happiness and, most imporant, offered up some peace of mind.  It is a mix of all these elements–positive and negative–that have launched Rosemarie and me into our current “move” status.  There is some practicality to our needing to downsize at this point in our lives. There are expenses that can be cut and chores elimenated. But there is also a need for change, a revitalization of sorts in that we could both used something new in our lives.  What better to turn upside down than the environment in which we have lived the past 23 years.  Getting rid of the stairs alone will be a “big deal!” Physically, they have become the nemises for both of us as each assent and dessent challenges our muscle and mind.

It is true what they say, that youth is wasted on the young.  Well, maybe not wasted, but lots of it tossed about aimlessly.  But that is part of the process we are all meant to go through.  Some of us are just better navigators than others.  My scope nowadays is more finely focused and my goal is to sop up as much glitter as our golden years will yield…time willing.  

*****                                      

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THE BIG MOVE …continued

Boxes

My surgery has healed enough that I  am back to packing things up.  That means I’ve been busy, methodically going through each room, each closet, each drawer and deciding what gets put in a box headed for the new home, what goes to the garage sale, what is given away or what is destine for the dump.Cardboard boxes on white background

Despite that it is going on 23 years that we have lived in this house, the process of packing it all up and moving is as daunting a task as it was when we moved several times within the first five years of our marriage.  If anything, it’s even worse because we’ve had a lot more years to accumulate stuff.  What always amazes me is the number of  boxes we have.

One important thing I’ve learned is to label each box with its contents, preferably on top and on at least one side.  You will be glad you did when you arrive at your new home and you are desperate for a can opener.  There you stand, staring at 30-40 boxes stacked wall to wall and if they are not labeled, good luck finding the can opener.

Cardboard boxes on white backgroundMeanwhile, there is a great opportunity to witness a humbling experience and it comes just after the movers, or your friends who were good enough to help you move, have unloaded the final item from the truck and bid you an exhausting goodbye.  And you?  Well, there you are alone with your boxes…a gazillion of them.  It is now that you realize your entire life, everything from Scrubby your first bath buddy, to the award for being student of the year in fifth grade, to the first all-A’s report card (well, maybe not everyone has that) to dating souvenirs, to the set of china your parents-in-law bought you, to your kid’s artwork, etc. etc. etc.–it’s all here, your entire life’s collection of material goods, stacked several feet high and wide…in boxes.

The boxes, however, contain much more than just “things.”  They harbor all the references and memories that expose the links to your soul and everything you have done in your life.  Inside these walls of cardboard are items that represent all your most cherished accomplishments,  all your failures and all your in-betweens.  Each is a mini-warehouse of goods that trigger emotions  you’ve openly expressed or kept secretly tucked away.  If the boxes could come alive, they’d be a heap of pulsating pulp, Cardboard boxes on white backgroundinhaling and exhaling, sighing and smiling or seething with anger or frustration. All that you are, have been and will be are here before you in a mountain of brown fiber waiting to be reopened and let out again.

And that’s what moving is all about.  Enjoy!

*****

Check out my new shop…here’s the link:  https://etsy.com/shop/vintageradiosplus

EtsyBannerA

 

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SUPERMARKETS ARE…WELL, SUPER!

 

supermarket

Rosemarie and I have some very specific divisions of labor that have evolved over the many years she and I have been co-everythingers.  One such divide is the ongong task of grocery shopping.   She hates going to the supermarket.  On the other hand, I love it.  So she stays home and does the laundry–a task I run from–while I schlep off to the supermarket.

Now I know it is a bit odd, but there is more than the raw food itself that motivates my looking forward to the trip.  I enjoy the gaming of it all.  By “gaming” I mean marketing.  My trained eye probably picks up more nuances of food marketing than 90% of the customers I maneuver my cart around as I go up and down the aisles.  I am especially alert to changes in packaging which can either be radical or more subtle than noticing your wife change in eyeliner.

Fact is, packaging is one of the most important areas of selling food when it  comes to manufacturers and producers wanting to fool you.  You may not notice that box of corn flakes is a full 1/4 to 1/2 inch narrower than it was last month.   That’s odd, the price hasn’t changed, just the box.  I keep watch on such things as ice cream containers too.  Some of them change monthly: the round ones get squattier or narrower in diameter and the oval ones subtly shrink as if you took a computer mouse to one corner of the breyerscontainer, clicked on it and then made the entire package shrink down a bit.  And watch those product names.  It can say “ice cream” only if the product contains a specific amount of butter fat cream.  Many Breyers products do not measure up so you will notice they are labeled as a “frozen dairy dessert.”  It may taste just as good…but it’s not pure ice cream.

And one other note about packaging:  if the size stays consistent, you may still be paying more…there is simply less product in the same-size package.  Plastic bottles can be deceptive too.  They may appear the same size as always, but that inverted dimple on the bottom sometimes grows in size, meaning there is more of it taking up space previously occupied by product.

Just as in real estate, location location location is a critical marketing ploy at the supermarket.  There is tremendous competition for shelf space, especially at eye-level.  Then too, it’s fascinating how marketing can influence the amount of shelf space assigned to a specific product. Just stroll by the milk section and you will see it has grown several feet longer this past year.  Regular old milk had it good for so many years and now it’s faced with heavy competition from almond milk, cashew milk and a bunch of other milk-like beverages.  I wonder how the cows are coping with all the new flavors they have to produce.

Meanwhile, here’s an easy quiz.  What product do you think is represented by all these variations:  organic, free range, pasture raised, blue and brown, nest fresh, pasture raised on over eight acres, tended by hand, ethically raised on family farms.  Yeah, you got it, these are the lines you can read on egg cartons as egg farmers try to appeal to health food enthusiasts. Remember when an egg was just an egg and the only variation was size.  Do you think those chickens on the 8 acres would notice if I moved the fence in a few feet?  Would we?

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HEY! Now that we are moving, I’ve decided to sell a few things, like my collection of old radios.  If you are interested in anything “vintage” check it out at etsy.com/shop/vintageradiosplus

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INADEQUACY

HUMMMMIf you haven’t figured it out yet, I have.  For years I thought the answer was my wife, or maybe even women in general.  But I am past that now.  Then for a while, I thought it was fixing my car.  No, not a flat tire or changing the oil, but something more serious like installing a new transmission. But no, car problems didn’t fit the answer either.  There have been a few other daunting tasks but nowadays most of them are explained on YouTube.   No, I am convinced…“the computer” is the answer.  Oh, the question?  I guess you want to know that.  The question is, “What did God put on earth to remind me–make that constantly remind me–of my inadequacies. There is nothing, has never been and I doubt there ever will be, anything that frustrates me more, puzzles me more and exposes my stupidity more… than my computer(s).

What is odd is that if I had several dogs in my household over a period of time and most of them were anything but my best friend–guess what?  I wouldn’t have any more dogs.  Same goes for just about anything else that may constantly disturb you. So what do you do?  You stop using it or buying it or going to it.  That’s what you do.  But do you give up your computer?  Of course not…because you cannot ever, EVER, think of living without your computer.

Now I  have never been one to shy away from a technical task even though I am about as technically savvy  as a parakeet.  But I did install a new thingamajig in my washing machine that allowed it to spin dry.  And the blower behind the back wall in my freezer? Well, that was pretty easy to install a new one if you paid attention to the refrigerator repairman on YouTube.  But fix my computer? …not on my life, or yours either.

So why is this such a problem?  I’ve got that figured out too.  You see, the refrigerator repairmen talks like normal people.  He’ll tell you to put the short screw in the hole right above the blue blade on the fan.  Now I ask you, you can handle that, right? ….short screw, hole above blue blade. Piece of cake.  Now if it’s a computer that you are attempting to fix, the entire process changes.  Computers do not talk like normal people, neither do the geeks who fix them. Hear me out on this.

For about a month a little message has been flashing in the upper right-hand corner of my iMac.  It says that my hard drive is running out of space.  It says nothing else.  There is no additional help offered.  The refrigerator guy would have said I’m running out of freezer space and here are something things you can do to avoid the problem:  throw some food out, eat more frozen food or buy an additional freezer to add to your capacity.  See, we all understand capacity…except when it comes to a computer hard drive that is running out it.

So I did the only natural thing one would naturally do.  I went to YouTube and did a search on “hard drive running out of space.”  There now.  I was surprised to see so many geeks had made video tutorials dealing precisely with this very topic.  But remember what I said…computer repairers don’t talk like you and I do.  Video after video eventually took me down a different trail that had nothing to do with my problem or the thinking capacity of my brain.  Many times I was instructed to open some whozziefart window that suddenly appeared on the tutorial…but they never tell you how to find and open this window. Consequently, you are left wriggling in the dusty roadside as the geek continues his journey to computer oblivion.

Anyway, I figure I better purge some files from my hard drive, y’know free up some space.  That much I understand.  So I come across this folder with rows and rows and rows of icons, each for a specific day of the year, going back to 2016. They  appear to me as backup files, but do I need that many?  And they are all huge and they all contain the same files.  So I decide to shade a few rows and drag them all down the screen and dump them in that little trashcan at the bottom.  Yeah, that should free up a ton of space.  Well, to make a long long story short, two things resulted from my innocent little maneuver.  First, the same message continued to flash in the upper right-hand corner of my computer—the one telling me that I was running out of space.  But now, if I wanted to get rid of any more files to free up space on my hard drive, I couldn’t.  That’s because my computer tells me “Error 7210” has occurred and that the files in the trashcan may be tied to other programs still in use on my computer so I will not be able to erase all these files nor can I delete any other files since my trashcan is now maxed out.imacfrroge

Then, out of nowhere  I  had an epiphany.  Bam! The answer came to me like a bolt of lightning.  If I want my computer fixed all I need to do is call in the refrigerator repairman. Yeah, he’ll know what to do.

*****

 

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The Big Move, on again!

BOXES

Two months back, Rosemarie and I were in the process of packing up the house and preparing to sell it and move to a smaller place.  It’s a common exercise many of us our age go through when we realize the reason for such a large  house with all the bedrooms no longer applies.  The kids have gone, but the rooms decided to remain.  I thought for a split second what a great idea it would be to buy  a modular house, one constructed in sections easily removed from the others.  Then, when it was time for the children to go, you’d simply tell them to “get the hell out and take your room with you!”

Well, as many of you are aware, we had to put the move on hold while I took a time-out for a little spinal surgery.  I am, however, able to continue part of the moving process at this time.  I can fill boxes with stuff, but once full, somebody else has to lift them and  carry them to the “box staging area,” formerly known as the  dining room

Moving is always a daunting experience.  It’s basically an in-your-face personal review of your life. There are, of course, a good number of boxes that still remain sealed, never opened, from the last time I moved. These I am tempted to leave sealed and simply throw them out based on the rationale that if I’ve had no need for the stuff inside these boxes for the 20+ years they’ve been sitting on a closet shelf, why keep carrying them onto the next place?  But, of course I will. Many of these contain stacks and stacks of photos I took of the children when they were young.  Trash?  I think not.

While I am being particularly objective and focused this time around, I am still taking too much with us.  I  have really really tried to purge our collection of worldly goods.  I have three piles:  Garage Sale, Trash and Take with Us.  The goal is to have the smallest pile in the Take With Us group.  That’s not happening.  I keep telling myself it will all pan out in the end.  The problem is, packing involves too many variables, especially for  an undisciplined mine.  Every item you pick up is put through a decision as to which of the three piles it goes in.  It turns out becoming a parade of memories, nostalgia and emotional ties to almost every item you touch.  It is exhausting.

Our lives are one big collection of baggage, some containing fond memories and useful goods. Others are loaded with sadness, impracticalities and disappointments.  But if you are to continue on being who you are meant to be, then each bag, box and bundle gets wrapped and sealed and put on the truck.  It is what is is…a moving experience.

*****

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SMARTS

smarts

I do not have a smart phone. Nor do I have a smart watch. I don’t drive a smart car and I don’t live in a smart house.  I don’t track how many paces or miles I go each day or the numer of times my heart pumps or my eyes blink.  And, come to think of it, I’d guess the amount of smarts I have occupying my brain is pretty much average

It is not so much that I am against smart things; it’s more a case that most of these new smart products simply don’t fit in with where I am in life right now.  Today, I took a seat in my old reliable thinking chair on the patio out back and came up with a list of smart items I could see myself using. Oh yeah, the first thing I did was change the name of my thinking chair to smart chair.  Smart thinking, huh? Here’s the list:

  1. Smart Body – Why not? This is the ultimate smart thing to have. Imagine, the minute something inside your body malfunctions, gets out of  sync, or its levels rise above or below where they are supposed to hover…well then, your smart body would be alert to any of these kinds of anomalies and immediately send out the fiirst responders to immediately fix them.
  2. Smart Appetite – Okay, this is sort of included with the smart body concept above. Here’s how a smart appetitide would fuction.  Once installed, you’d set the settings to things like how many calories you want to consume,  how heavy you want to be, your preferred waist size…stuff like that. Then, anytime you reach the imposed limit on any of these settings, your Smart Appetite would kick in and shut down all hunger and craving mechanisms.  You’d feel absolutely normal and be able to fuction in all capacities, except you simply would have no appetite, no hunger, no cravings. Then when your readings recycled back to their normal ranges, you would slowly, naturally start planning lunch.
  3. Smart Laundry – Attached to your washing machine would be a hamper with two bins, one for your colored clothes and one for whites. When your hamper bins reached a specified level, on would go the washer,  water and detergent would fill the tub, the hamper bin would empty into the water and later your clean clothes would be sent to the drying chamber, after which another part of the process would fold your dried clothes.  I’d really like one of these.
  4. Smart Maid – This little gadget would automatically read things like dust and clutter levels, spilled liquids and cookie crumbs. Once alerted, it’d turn itself on and go to whatever aisel or room need cleanup.
  5. Smart Blog – This was an afterthought I threw in for selfish reasons.  It’d be a blog that posted only things in which the majority of readers are interested. Each posting would be written perfectly with no mistakes, no typos or misspellings.  You’d be compelled to leave a like!

*****

 

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