Monday, July 28, 2008

The mother of (blog entries about) invention

These are the dog days of summer. (No really, I'm not just saying that.) They are typically accompanied by a lull in blog material. (I am just saying that.) Therefore, I invite you to join me as I proclaim this National Blog Something That's In Draft Week, or NaBloSoThaDraWe. (Also, feel free to add a NaBloSoThaDraWe tag to your blog.) I expect this to catch on at least as well as my Sunday Show & Tell idea. NaBloSoThaDraWe is for those entries that never saw the light of day because they weren't quite as interesting or funny as the ones you posted, but... actually there is no but. While browsing today, I found that I had 77 things in draft. I now have 76.

I have a tape measure. It was made in Korea. But let's not get into the discussion of why in the world we're having to import tape measures from Korea. I'll save that for my first appearance on The Colbert Report.

Occasionally, I'll stand up and measure myself. I'm not sure why. I figure it must be one of two things. Either I'm expecting myself at age 35 to suddenly hit a growth spurt, or I'm really really bored.

The tape measure was an excellent invention. First we had the ruler. Then the yardstick. Then the less popular two-yard stick, which was a little awkward to carry around. Finally some genius said, "Hey, we can put these lines and numbers on something flexible, roll it up, slap Stanley on it, and make millions."

Some inventions seem to have stopped evolving. For example, they're not really making a lot of technological advances with pens lately. The other day I saw a pen with ink that was guaranteed to prevent check washing. Isn't this coming along a little late? I didn't even know people still wrote checks. That would be like if they came out tomorrow with some technological update for 8-track players.

The Erasermate seemed brilliant, for awhile. Then after a few years, we were like, eh screw it, we'll just cross it out. Have you ever noticed that sometimes people don't just cross things out? Sometimes they do this entire black out thing where they scribble and scribble until the paper is nearly worn thru and there isn't a single trace of what once was. Makes me wonder what they had orginally written.

I mean, it's like three or four words marked out. It's not like there's space to write out a complicated assassination plot or some militia manifesto or anything. What are these people writing? What could be so important and secretive that they want to make 100 percent sure not any part of a single letter is visible? "Death To America." "Colonel Mustard did it." "I love the Bee Gees." I mean, no one's scribbling out "milk, detergent, eggs" you know?

Bumper stickers aren't evolving much, either. It would be nice, however, if they could come with an expiration date for them. "Hey '87 Tercel, I think it's safe to take off that Dole/Kemp 96 sticker now. At this point, I don't think there's gonna be a recount. However, Bob Dole does appreciate your support."

Nail clippers. There's another one that hasn't evolved much, though they do have the separate clippers for toenails and fingernails now. And from a fungal standpoint, I'm most thankful for that.

Why do they always put nail clippers by the register? You're getting ready to checkout, you're thinking, "I've gotta find my super saver card, and oh my gosh look at my nails!"

The items near the checkout are always quite varied. It's like a little telepathic message: "While you wait, here are a few things you may have forgotten. Some batteries, a Mounds bar, the National Enquirer, a glue stick, and look, here's some film for the camera you don't own." And I end up buying them. I have like three glue sticks! I haven't used glue for its intended purpose since 1984.

You gotta hand it to candles. They're hanging in there. I mean cars came along, the horse and buggy pretty much gave up. But light bulbs came along, candles evolved. They said, we can burn in jars. We can smell. Burn us at dinner. It'll be romantic. Trust us.

Necessity, of course, is the mother of invention. Unfortunately, necessity isn't sure who the father is.

Do you ever stop to think about how many inventions came about as a result of people making mistakes? Erasers. The backspace key. Liquid paper, which I still say began as a hallucinogen. Prison. Napkins. Child support. TMZ.

I don't understand the whole sliced bread cliche, either. Was slicing bread such a humongous inconvenience that avoiding it became the greatest invention in the history of the world? Did communities stage "bread slicings" instead of "barn raisings?" Were there volunteer organizations like Whole Grain For Humanity that would come in and slice bread for families without the means or manpower to slice it themselves?

Some things have yet to be invented, even though there is an obvious need. For example, why don't they sell ironing boards in the shape of pants and shirts? I'd buy two.

Sometimes I wonder about the person who invented the jigsaw puzzle. How did that come about? You're sitting there with this nice pretty picture and suddenly just decide to fire up the ol' power saw and chop it up into a thousand tiny pieces? I think someone may have had some rage issues.

I remember when I was little and Dad bought a jigsaw. I was excited. Looking forward to lots and lots of puzzles. Turned out to be a bit misleading. And we won't even get into the first time I heard the term "carpool."

Do you ever wonder about the person who invented the rubber insulation on electrical plugs?

Inventions like that, you really have to wonder about the trial and error aspect. Like for instance, the parachute. "No, Charlie. Really. This will catch you. Go ahead, jump....."

I think one of the great inventions of all time is the tennis racket. You don't agree? Imagine tennis without it.

Many inventions are the direct result of another invention. Call waiting and caller ID, for example. I wonder how long it took before Alexander Graham Bell started avoiding calls. "Blimey, I know that's Watson again. Why'd I ever give him my number?" I mean, he couldn't really say wrong number. There were only two phones.

I wonder how guys picked up girls before there were phone numbers. I've thought about it. I really don't know. Did they ask girls out by letter? The girl's talking to her sister. "He still hasn't written." "Well, it's only been nine days. Give him time. Guys never write the next week, plus the mail is slow." Or maybe they just hung out at the General Store. They see a girl. "Hey, um, you wanna come over later? I think we're having a bread slicing."

"I love the gal who invented kissin'. I don't recall her name. But I do believe that gal should sit high up in the hall of fame..."


  1. You are one sick puppy bone :)

    obviously this is a draft as there's almost too much great material

    You mistaking your father's jigsaw had me hysterical....

    I even love the title

  2. oh the expecting a growth spurt--as I said you're one sick puppy bone

    And the end of almost every paragraph

    two comments for na--whatever--sounds like that rock group from the 70's that did 50's music

  3. Well this was certainly better than Kenny Banya. Actually you could give Jerry a run for his money.

    ya know I've owned a jigsaw for years and have only cut straight lines with it...if you wanna make a good curved line (like for a puzzle) you need a scroll saw!

  4. I was hoping this was going to be that story about meat and round objects, but oh well, still good.

    I also was very misled by the word "carpool" as a child. I still don't think it seems fair.

  5. You haven't used glue for it's "intended purpose"? I am almost afraid to ask...
    And I tend to measure myself occasionally too. I'm not growing, but at least I haven't gotten over the hill to the shrinking stage yet!!

  6. Erasermates never fully erased, ergo I thought they were a waste of money. But no one should be so ashamed of loving the Bee Gees that they scribble out the inscription.

    And ha ha, two phones, ha ha. That's funny! If Bell invented the phone, did Watson invent the crank call?

  7. I used the local library and the county courthouse. You can look at old census records and it tells you the names of the parents and the children in the family, so you can kind of work backwards.

  8. Pia - I know you're using "sick puppy" most affectionately.

    Oh, you mean Sha Na Na! I actually tried making it into an acronym of something easy to remember, like for instance, GABE KAPLAN. I got: "Go Ahead, Blog..." Then I got stuck.

    Renee - Oh that reminds me. I completely left out my Ovaltine bit!

    Coconut - No, either I'll have to begin a new blog or people will have to die before I can tell that story :)

    And thanks much for the info.

    Jennifer - Shrinking? Yikes! If that ever starts happening to me, I'll be hanging upside down like Bobby Brady trying to stretch myself out.

    Interstellar - I tell you what really didn't erase at all were those pens with the hexagon barrells. I think they were like white or yellowish and black. They didn't have caps, just useless erasers.

  9. What about the rolling devices used to measure very long distances? Wouldn't those be considered an advance? Must have been really hard to measure really big things, like say your yard, with a regular tape measure.

    Best part: TMZ

    If any of your other drafts are this funny I hope to be reading them soon!

  10. I'm irritated with the person who invented clothes that don't fold themselves after being washed.

    They can send a person to the moon, but you can't have some whizz-gadget to fold a seven-dollar shirt?

  11. I like the title too. And the end. And the middle. And the in betweens.

    Here's to more gadgets. Well, gadgets that actually do things I need them to do.

  12. I had a totally witty & awesome invention quote all ready to go this morning when I read your blog. 12 hours of work later my brain is fried. Sorry Bone, guess I need to comment first thing in the morning.

  13. what a fun trip this was... i have thought about many of them myself...and by the way,, there is a school of thought that says michael nesmiths mother invented white out to cover up any ties that link her to the monkeys......

  14. Well she certainly isn't any Girl Scout! Sometimes I want to send these folks a copy of the Girl Scout Law...and a Girl Scout Policewoman to arrest them for breaking it.

    yeah, the jerkstore was fresh out of her!

  15. Susan - Yeah, they have those laser things now, too. I workshopped that. It wasn't as funny :)

    I think this is the first time I've ever mentioned TMZ on my blog. How can that be?

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Eileen - Evidently, they're too busy inventing retractable cords for cell phone chargers.

    Shelby - Aw, thank you.

    Jen - Please comment whenever is best for you. My blog is open twenty-four hours, except during times of Blogger maintenance.

    Paisley - Wait a second, how'd we go from the Bee Gees to the Monkees? I'm not sure, but suddenly I'm tempted to go and download "Last Train To Clarksville."

    Renee - Or how about, "Your cranium called. It's got some space to rent."

  16. "I have a tape measure. It was made in Korea. But let's not get into the discussion of why in the world we're having to import tape measures from Korea. I'll save that for my first appearance on The Colbert Report."

    I love your random thoughts!

  17. Thanks for the awkward "laugh out loud in a public place" post! It's much appreciated!

  18. One of your better posts in a long time... I laughed through the entire thing.

    I love what's in your brain. It's a deep, vast jungle of WTF?!

    I keep this in my top five fav posts.

  19. What have you been doing since 1984 with all that glue then?

    And did you never see the folding stick that measured? You might have had that growth spurt with all the zigzags it made while you were trying to measure yourself.

    And there are laser tape measures now. Time for a field trip to a hardware, live blogging?

  20. I'm catching up on some blogs...I'm a little behind.

    When I was younger I thought it would make sense to have scissors that cut squiggly lines or zig zags. I was SO UPSET when I saw craft scissors at the store a few years later. Someone stole my idea. I should be rich and retired right now.

  21. Gadgets, gotta love them and hate them. We could certainly do without some of them. Very nice post, Bone. Have a nice day.