We live in a self-cleaning oven. Not literally, of course. We would burn up if we did. Those things get really HOT!
In fact, self-cleaning ovens get so hot that they burn orange juice to a crisp. They get so hot that they melt thermometers. The produce enough hot air to replace the entire American Senate, the British Parliament and the Canadian PMO put together. Unfortunately, certain trade barriers and constitutional clauses impede the replacement of deadwood political assemblies by modern, efficient self-cleaning ovens.
The self-cleaning oven is part of the "oven" genus of machines. Households these days also boast a microwave oven, a toaster, a toaster oven, a waffle maker, a bread maker, a popcorn cooker, an auto-shut kettle and several other specialty "ovens". The combined hot air form all these cooking machines could turn any ordinary home into an instant Parliament.
Like the self-cleaning oven, everything is automated these days. It makes life so easy. In fact, the machines could almost run the world without us. Almost.
The ovens practically clean themselves. My great, great, great uncle, Caveman Jack, had to clean his oven with a stick. The hardest part was trying to figure out which rock was the oven.
Automated doors at the grocery store open and close even when nobody walks through...except for those few that still function properly.
Lights turn on an off on their own, as long as there is somebody there to applaud, which brings me to question the self-esteem of lighting fixtures.
Lint gets caught in the lint trap. Caveman Jack had to trap his own lint, but then somebody invented the clothes dryer, and people have not had to hunt for lint ever since.
Planes fly on autopilot these days. Gone are the days when Caveman Jack had to pedal over a cliff to take flight. Now pilots can sit back, sip a drink and snooze while airplanes fly themselves. Word is that Al Qaeda has developed a self-hijacking plane, but they can't seem to develop a customer base.
Television remote controls, officially called "doodadders", have made legs virtually redundant, except for bathroom breaks. In Caveman Jack's days, they had to get up off their rocks to change the channels. If Caveman Jack had had a doodadder, he might still be sitting on his rock praying that somebody will soon invent a bathroom.
To be frank, I think the Office of Modern Conveniences has misguided priorities. My oven doesn't need cleaning all that badly. But my office does. And so does my kitchen. And my laundry room. And my bathroom. Why doesn't somebody invent a self cleaning bathroom?
Oops. I forgot. Somebody did invent a self-cleaning bathroom. On our honeymoon in Rome, we used the bathroom in a Roman Metro station. As soon as we left the bathroom the automatic door shut and the bathroom was rinsed from sprinklers all around.
Did I mention that Caveman Jack was a sugar sculptor? He carved lovely sculptures of rocks out of sugar. What if one day, while riding the Roman Metro to a sugar sculpture showing, Caveman Jack suddenly had to rush to the washroom?
Leaving the washroom, he remembers his prize sculpture entitled "Rock" sitting on the bathroom floor. Too late. The automatic doors close. The water flushes the bathroom clean.
Later that day at the sugar sculpture exhibit, everyone gathers 'round and marvels at the latest offering by Caveman Jack: "Little Rock".
Caveman Jack is probably happy that he doesn't have a self-cleaning oven. Too much convenience is not always good for the soul. Besides, there's nothing like an open fire to cook a juicy mammoth steak.
Saaaay...how about a self-cleaning fire pit?
David Leonhardt is a freelance writer: He is author of:
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