During my lifetime, I have experienced, and seen, technological revolutions that can only be described as miraculous. These technological advancements have made life easier and faster.
Let me provide a few examples of some great technological advancements, both big and small.
Do you know when the first TV dinner was created? Do you remember who created it and what that dinner contained? The first TV dinner was created in 1953 by the Swanson Company, thus the Swanson TV dinner which is still available today. That first dinner was designed for a Thanksgiving meal. It contained turkey, cornbread dressing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes. It was packaged in the aluminum tray that was used by airline companies to serve food on their airplanes. The cooking directions called for 25 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees. That first meal cost 98 cents, and they sold a whopping 5000 dinners that first year!
What an advancement! Up until that time, in our house, either Mom or Grandma had to make everything from scratch. Because we lived on a Midwestern farm, we had animals and a huge garden. Our Thanksgiving turkey took 7-8 hours to cook. Oftentimes the bird was stuffed the night before Thanksgiving, placed in the refrigerator, and then someone had to get out of bed by 5:00 AM to place it in the oven in time for dinner. All rolls and bread were baked from scratch as were the pies. Grandma’s pies were to die for! All the crusts were made from scratch as was the filling. No pumpkin pie filling, cherry filling or blueberry filling came from a can. The pumpkin pie filling came from pumpkins grown in our garden. The cherries were purchased and pitted. The blueberries were picked in the summer and frozen until used. I know all about blueberry picking as my grandmother made me go with her. For the uninitiated, blueberries grow in low-lying areas and ripen about the same time as the bumper mosquito crop matures. We had to wear nets over our heads and wear long sleeve shirts even in the summer, so as not to get bitten hundreds of times. Unfortunately, because of the small size of the blueberries, we could not wear gloves. Our hands became the ultimate mosquito target and we would spend almost 2 hours picking and swatting, picking and swatting to get enough berries for 3-4 pies. It was not uncommon for a Thanksgiving feast to take three days of preparation. Whew! What a difference from 25 minutes at 425 degrees! (Honestly, our meals were bigger and much better.)
But the food industry was not done. In 1969, the first TV breakfast meal was made available. That was followed in 1973 by the Hungry Man Meal. Do you remember who the first spokesman was for the Hungry Man Meal? It was Pittsburgh Steeler footballer, Mean Joe Green.
But wait….there’s more! In 1986, the first microwavable TV dinner was made available because 25% of the American homes had microwave ovens. Microwave ovens were the next great technological leap for food preparation. My parents bought me a microwave oven as a Christmas gift in the early 1980s. It cost almost $500, and it took two men and a boy to lift it from the trunk of a car to my counter top. After its usefulness as a microwave, it could have been easily converted to a boat anchor! A BIG boat anchor!
Do you know how many years it was between the first airplane flight and landing the first person on the moon? The first flight by the Wright brothers was in 1903. The moon landing? 1969. Sixty six years between airplane invention and an almost unbelievable space travel accomplishment!
During my lifetime, communication in our house went from having no phone to having a party line phone. Yes, you could actually pick up the phone and hear your neighbors conversation. And yes, they could hear your conversations. Next came the invention of mobile phones. Those first mobile phones were the size of a brick and weighed about the same as a brick. Then we went to light-weight small pocket sized phones and now you can have a phone on your wrist! A wrist phone just like the one Dick Tracy used in the 1930s comic books! (Okay. Dick Tracy had a wrist radio.)
When I was in high school and college, we were never allowed to use calculators. That is because the first pocket calculators cost $250, and not everyone could afford them. Remember….the minimum wage was $1.00 an hour! While in high school, we could use slide rules. Right now, no one under the age of 50 has the slightest idea of what I am talking about. A slide rule was one step up from an ancient abacus, but multiplication and division could be done on a slide rule. To show the real advancement of technology, my first pocket calculator cost $250. When it finally broke, the exact replacement cost $59.99. When that pocket calculator broke, the exact replacement cost $19.95.
The first computer that I bought in 1991 was a butt-kicking 40 megabytes! I say it was a butt-kicking computer because all my competitors had 25 megabyte computers. I was king of the hill. That computer, monitor and daisy-wheel printer cost me $2200. I now write this blog on an 8 gigabyte computer that cost me $600 six years ago. The monitor and printer were extra. My printer not only prints, but it is capable of scanning, copying, and faxing….if I knew how to set it all up. The printer cost me less than $150. In the late 1980s, my old boss bought a fax machine for $2500. He was bragging about what a great deal he got because he got a free case of fax paper with the machine. Do they even sell fax only machines today?
These are just some of the marvelous technological improvements I have observed during my lifetime. Just think of all the improvements in the medical field. Look at the new devices that are a standard feature on an automobile that were unheard of during the 1950s. GPS? Back-up cameras? Alarms? Many of the new advancements have been for safety, but many of our advancements are popular because they either save time, eliminate work, or provide instantaneous information or instantaneous gratification. (Who researches using encyclopedias when google and Wikipedia are available.)
But the one thing I have noticed over my lifetime is that people and society have become less patient and tolerant. People today want instantaneous results. They want things to happen fast. They want things to happen faster than getting their food in a short line at a ‘fast food’ restaurant. (What a great belt-busting invention fast food has become!) I am convinced that some people believe that Rome was built in a day. The mantra seems to have become, ‘I want it and I want it now.’
Unfortunately, the attitude and mantra of ‘wanting it and wanting it now’ has permeated our expectations as to how our federal government should operate. I am glad that the ‘First 100 days of the Trump presidency’ have finally passed. How many times did you hear this: “Donald Trump’s presidency will be considered a failure if he doesn’t (fill in the blank) within his first 100 days.” Here were the most popular ‘fill in the blank’ items: 1. Replace the Affordable Care Act, 2, Have a budget, 3. Build the wall, and, 4. Provide a tax reform system. I heard each one of these items, attached to a 100 day timeline, being touted as signifying a failed presidency if not accomplished. Of course, these notions were mostly advanced by liberal politicians on liberal-leaning media sources. There were more ‘fill in the blank’ items, but these were the biggies.
So here is my advice…..”GET A GRIP AMERICA!” Rome was not built in a day. Do you really believe that these major issues, some of them decades old, could be reasonably alleviated in 100 days? I am glad that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was defeated early in the Trump presidency. Why? Because, unlike the original ACA passage that was shoved down the throats of all Americans by the Democratic party without Republican input, this repeal will have the input of both parties. I would much rather have a ‘good’ bill than a ‘fast’ bill. But if you want to believe the media hogwash, we wanted a fast bill.
It amazes me that any Democrat would have the cajoles to fault this administration for not having a budget (it was passed recently) when Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader for 6 years, promised to not have a budget reach the Senate floor as long as he was Senate Majority leader. The ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word. Our government ran for 6 years without passing a budget. (The next time you see a street corner hot dog stand, remember, he probably has a budget! Our federal government did not.)
I am sure that with a little time, there will be tax reform for both corporations and individuals. No one seems as concerned about building the big, beautiful wall now that illegal aliens attempting to enter this country has been reduced by over 70%.
But here is where the rubber meets the road; our society seems to have a disconnect between reality and expectation. Because of our faster than lightning technological advancements and our fast paced society, we begin to believe that all things should be fast. That may be true in some instances, but certainly not all. When it comes to governing, I would much prefer ‘slower and better’ than ‘faster and crappy.’
After all, it took my grandmother over 3 hours to make one of her delicious pies from scratch. She enjoyed making them and we really enjoyed eating them. Sara Lee would have been easier, but my grandmother would not let us have any of that. You were the perfect example of ‘slower and better.’ I love you grandma! You always took care of us.
Happy Mother’s Day.