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Old Technology To Rediscover

November 26th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is the week of Thanksgiving where I hope you are able to spend quality time with your family. This is a good time to decompress and reflect on your life. Recently, I was thinking about my life as a child and how much simpler it was back then. I’m all for improvements and technology (I work in technology); but in many cases, progress isn’t always better.

I grew up in a family that was on a tight budget, we got by through a combination of changes. First, my mother went to work after that 1970s inflation kicked in. Also, my siblings worked doing jobs like paper routes to add to the family income.

When I think back to that time, I realize that since then how we live has changed dramatically in many big and small ways. Today, I want to talk about a few small ways the world has changed and how I have rediscovered the charm of going back to a time when these conveniences didn’t exist.

I’m reminded of a story about canned goods. Canned goods have existed since the 18th century colonial days, but can openers didn’t come around until 19th century, almost 75 years later! You might think, how can you use a can without an opener? Well, you have to manually cut it open using a sharp knife or if you are really in a pinch you crush the can with a stone or other hard object.

So, in one sense cans were a technology that were ahead of itself. Sometimes technology makes a lot of sense (can openers), but others don’t really get you better results or a better experience they merely may save time.

Also, it’s not always one way, towards “progress”. When quartz watches came out in the 1970’s, the Swiss watch manufacturers got competition that was seemingly invincible. Many Swiss watches came out with the new quartz technology to compete. Once quartz technology became “commoditized”, it was the old analog movements that once again became desirable due to their exclusivity, beauty, and new, innovative handmade movement designs.

I don’t want to open cans with rocks, but take a look at this old technology that is worthy of rediscovery.

Round Bread

When bread is made by hand, it is natural to knead a load that is round. Unfortunately, round loaves make bread slices that are not uniform. If you go to the grocery store and buy bread that is mass manufactured, you will note that this problem has largely been solved by baking “square” loaves that generally provide uniform slices.

Try a round loaf that is made locally without the extra processing or preservatives. You will find it tastes better and you will easily adjust to the fact that your sandwiches won’t be uniform in size.



Manual Transmission Cars

Are manual transmission cars dead? Close but not there yet. Even people who drive cars for a living (Indy race cars) have moved on to automatic transmissions with paddle shifting. Today’s cars have more power and better mileage than ever which reduces the need for manuals (some automatic trannies even get better mileage than manuals).

However, there is nothing like driving a manual transmission. You are in control completely by being able to disengage the drive train and determine how the car starts, drives and stops.

Gas Stove

Microwave ovens have been around for decades. Can you live without one? Easily. We had a microwave growing up, but my mother never used it.

My current apartment didn’t have room for a microwave so I didn’t buy one. Yes, you can heat your food, reheat your food using a combination of an oven and range top. You will need a set of decent saucers and oven pans.

Almost anything you need to heat up in a microwave oven can be done on a stove/range.


Cheese Blocks

Real cheese is made in blocks. Those cheese slices (“singles”) that you buy in the store that are formed into pre-made slices aren’t even real cheese, but “cheese food”. Buy real cheese, a good cheese knife and get slicing! Sure, it’s a little more work to cut your cheese, but you will like it better and likely start to enjoy the task.

There are many wonderful cheeses out there to discover when you cut it yourself.


Rabbit Ears


This is one that is back to the future. In the past, before cable TV existed, broadcast TV was the only way to go for television. Many people think that broadcast TV is dead, but it really isn’t. There are millions of people who still use it and it actually makes more sense now than ever before primarily because of new technology.

First, broadcast TV is now all digital. If you have a digital capable TV, you will find that the picture quality is excellent. Second, with all the new streaming and mobile entertainment options available, you really don’t need to buy cable/satellite anymore. When you buy cable, you are implicitly paying for broadcast TV since the cable companies pay the broadcasters fees to carry the channels.

Combine broadcast TV with your favorite streaming options and you will have more than enough entertainment to enjoy. Oh, you will want to buy a newer digital antenna instead of the old rabbit ears pictured here.

Homemade Popcorn

Nothing represents the absurdity of modern world conveniences than microwave popcorn. It’s so easy and economical to make fresh popcorn from kernels. It takes a little more time but you will like the results better without all the chemicals and additives that go into microwave popcorn.

Before microwave popcorn, there was Jiffy Pop that was invented to make quick popcorn on a stove. This was overkill then as well. Try making your own, you will like it. In a large pan, put 2 tbsp of olive oil for every 1/4 cup of kernels. Heat up the oil (about 5 minutes), then add the kernels.


All images courtesy of Wikipedia.

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