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January 18, 2010

Making an Entrance

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

It was almost a DISASTER.  I just about klonked myself, and by that I mean crashing into a glass door face first, the other day at Marty's liquor store. And before you all sneer and make assumptions, I was going in. And it was like two in the afternoon. All I'd had to drink was maybe a latte. Or two.

Door

 

Anyway. It was the door's fault. Or maybe it was  techonology's fault. Or both. But it wasn’t my fault.  And the episode of the door made me realize how technology is making us –lazy?

 

 

Problem was, I was walking briskly and purposefully into the store to get wine and Illy coffee and their very good artichoke pesto and a pack of sugar-free gummi bears (yes, Jackie Kennedy would eat them) and I just walked smack into the glass door. Instead of through it.

 

 

Why? I wasn’t distracted or listening to my ipod (don't have one) or talking on the

phone. I just—expected that the door would open automatically.  It didn't.

Why? Because everything is automatic now. Isn't it? You go into the bathroom at a restaurant or someplace like that, and its almost terrifying when the toilet's brain decides its time to flush. I mean, how does it know? And its not always correct.

 

 

That situation survived, then you have to wash your hands. How? Stick your hands under the faucet, and the water automatically comes out. Need soap?Stick your hands under the soap dispenser and the soap automatically comes out.  Drying?Stick your hands under …well, you get the picture.

 

 

(Although, digression, I love the motion activated hand towel dispensers. Really, they're fun. I pretend I'm shooting it, the towel comes out.  I do it with my elbow, the towel comes out. I pretend I'm doing presto-chango magic, the towel comes out. You have to take your fun where you can, and this is one place I can.)

Towel

 

 

But back to the door. So is it any wonder that  I expected it to open for me? My paycheck gets automatically put into the bank,so I no longer race to my local branch on Friday afternoons to make a deposit and make sure my already-written checks are covered.  (Money comes from the ATM. *Automatic* teller machine.  I'm so used to automatic money, when my wallet was stolen recently, I was bewildered about how I could get cash. What am I going to do without my ATMcard?, I wailed to my husand.  Uh, go to the bank? Jonathan suggested.)

 

 

 My car's doors automatically lock, the headlights automatically come on. Unless the guy at the parking garage turns them off, which we NEVER notice til we’re halfway home and baffled about why we can't see.

 

 

Our one-cup coffee things automatically arrive every month so we’re never out of them. Netflix automatically provides movies. Tivo tapes Project Runway and Glee and Modern Family and 24, so I don't even have to know when they’re actually on.

 

 

(And it was kind of cool that MIRA just sent DRIVE TIME automatically to its suspense book club subscribers. I'm all for that kind of  automatic.)

 

So. A modest proposal.  Instead of complaining, which is rarely effective and most often just a waste of time, can we think of a way to make more things automatic?

 

 

Like milk in the fridge. I don't like to sniff it to see  if it's past its use by date. Maybe there would be a way it could just buzz, or flash, or something? Milk

 

 

 How about automatically refilling ice cube trays so that when Jonathan puts them back with just ONE cube, they automatically get full of water? (Oh, I know they have ice makers. But not in my prehistoric fridge.) 

 

 

Dinner menu? Someone or something would decided what we're having for dinner every night, so there would be no more "I don't know, what would you like to make?" To which the response is, "ANYTHING, just tell me what you'd like to have." To which the response is, "Honey, really, everything you make is wonderful." To which the response is: "Just TELL me something." So if the automatic dinner-menu-maker existed, all that would be solved.What to wear to work? Love to know that automatically. Maybe--automatic nametags on people so there would be no more name-forgetting?

 

Are we too coddled by having everything automatic? Or are we not coddled ENOUGH? What would you like to see made automatic?  And, fine, how do you feel about the automatic toilet flushers? 

 

 

 

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Comments

Hank,

My Mom thrust herself violently into a glass door of a boutique on the Champs Elysées a week ago exactly the same way. So we had the same kind of discussion: “How come that it didn’t open? Damn, everything is automatic”

What would I do automatic? I switch off the computer every time I leave the office. It would be nice if the computer turned on automatically while I hang my coat (I don’t have this Pavlov's Dog Reflex to turn on my computer as soon as I enter the office). An automatically turned on computer would save some time of waiting for me.

Automatic toilet flushers. I’m Ok with them unless I know that it’s automatic and don’t feel like I just cannot find the flusher.
Once, I went to a public toilet (some kind of stall on the streets of Paris made for the tourists’ convenience). I never used them before and spent a lot of time looking for the flusher. In vain. I felt uncomfortable leaving not clean toilets but when I opened the door, I heard THE noise behind me. They’re automatic. Now I know.

Automatic toilets work ok if you have an adult sized tush. I take little children to the bathroom. Auto-flush freaked Yael out for a long time.

I recently had the car worked on and needed a rental. I parked it at the store and looked for the key fob. It was then that I realized you needed to use the key. I hadn't unlocked a car door with a key in more than ten years. The girls were freaked out. They had never heard of such a thing. The key needs to touch the outside of the car?

On the other hand. I would not trade the "magic doors" on the van for anything.

I'm still not 100% comfortable with all the automatic stuff in a car. For instance, I hate Cruise Control. It just feels wrong.

As for household things, I just want a robot maid. That would be so helpful.

Coffee is still done the Old-Fashioned Way: freshly ground, drip brewed. The one concession is it can be set up on a timer (me without coffee immediately upon waking is an ugly, ugly thing) so it's ready when I get upstairs to the office.

Car alarm fritzed on me a couple of years ago, and until I could get it fixed, remembering to use the key to open the door took a day or so. Double ditto for the garage door; get out of car, lift door, pull car in, get out, pull door down. Ye Gods, people DID this not all that long ago?

You're right, Hank, we've become spoiled. Although, to be honest, auto-flush toilets freak me out. There's something unnatural about it....

I think I've described here before my antics of waving frantically at the towel dispenser in the airport restroom, for far too many seconds, until I realized I had to crank them out myself.

And I have the same problem with the lights on my car. I leave them on all the time, and whenever the car gets parked for me they always turn them off, and I'm wondering for miles why people are flashing and honking at me as I drive home in the dark with no headlights.

I would love an automatic toilet cleaner that did the seat and all, and a automatic dust bunny eradicator.

Great blog, Hank - you crack me up.

My new car has a key fob and no key at all. I mean it---there's no key to insert!! All you do is push a button. As long as you have the fob in your pocket. Which means if my husband kindly lets me out of the car before he puts it into the garage and I happen to have the fob in my pocket--the car has a hissy fit!

(I love the word "fob." I'm going to start using it as a cuss word.)

What I want is a key fob for the door to my house. When my arms are full of groceries, I dislike fussing in my pocket for the key and then doing the fumble thing with the lock. I'm always dropping my husband's chocolate milk. (Which I'm pretty sure Jackie Kennedy would not have for breakfast over her Frosted Mini Wheats.)

Hank and Laura, I'm with you on the car lights -- I love that they turn off soon after the car does. I used to forget and then have to jump start the dead battery. . . no more. I started leaving mine on all the time after driving home with no lights one evening, wondering why the streets were so dark. . . and then wondering why no one flashed lights at me as a reminder.
The over-sensitive toilet-flushers are a real discomfort. If they can't get them right, I'd rather do without them. A heard a small child expressing fear of them at the Rep one day, and was happy to direct his grandma toward one of the stalls that hadn't been converted to automatic.
At the Y, the automatic doors stay open so long and create such a draft that, unless I have very full hands, I use the other door. Nancy, I think they do make automatic entry doors for homes . . .
And why am I up to early? Because I'm reading _The Other Boleyn Girl_ and had to get up to keep reading . . . back to the book now!

Yes, Ramona. I'm a little apprehensive about cruise control myself. I mean--what if it doesn't turn off? And if you're not driving, who IS driving?

ANd yes, Nancy and Alan--our car key's automatic clicker-thing would not work. I clicked and clicked at the doors, and they would not open. I was so frustrated--grrrrrrr...until, thankfully, I thought--just use the KEY.

I burst out laughing.

(I'm off to ALA Midwinter to meet librarians now..back later! Very delighted and excited to go--but it's sleeting here in Boston. Sigh.

Laytah, as they say in these parts.

I hate the auto toilet flushers--I never seem to time it right and either it flushes before I even sit down all the way or it won't flush for anything when I want it to. Then I find myself looking for buttons to push.

I didn't walk into a non-automatic door, but I did stand in front of one like a fool, waiting for it to open, until my husband came along and opened it for me.

As a mom, I used to try to make my too-cool-for-school kids laugh, usually with limited results (but I kept trying). One of the goofier things I used to do was to stand in front of the automatic doors at the supermarket and open my arms, a la Moses parting the Red Sea, so the doors would open. Mostly, this resulted in embarrassed eye-rolling, but then they got the hint and started to get a move on when we went into stores, instead of lagging behind all the time.

I "collect" fully automatic public bathrooms. There are very few completely hands-free ones, though, and this mystifies me. Why not have automatic soap dispensers and faucets, if you're also going to put in automatic toilets (which I detest, by the way). The closet I've seen: A squeaky clean rest stop restroom in Berea, Kentucky, on I-75, at the Kentucky Artisan Center. And there is no door, so you don't have to use your newly sanitized hands to touch a filthy door that others who aren't as conscientious have touched. And our local Target, which does not have automatic toilets, but everything else is touchless, AND the door opens out, so you can just shove a shoulder at it to leave.

Most automatic toilets seem to flush at the wrong times, and waste more water than not, I think. Plus, it's so disconcerting to suddenly have a big rush of cold water splashing your bum. Yikes!

I've also noticed a nice trend, establishments leaving waste bins right next to the door, so anal health nuts like me can use the towel to open the door, and then leave it in the bin. Especially with H1N1, I've really tried to stay healthier, and not getting that kind of germs is part of my effort. So far, so good. Touch wood.

Hank, look for my friend Hope Baugh at that conference!!
When the Prius battery died (the little one, not the big expensive one), the first sign was that the doors wouldn't open. I thought it was the battery in the remote, which would have been nice. I'd been told not to jump start a hybrid (a friend whose husband is an electrical engineer says they jumped theirs), so I called for a tow. That driver was going to jump it to put it in neutral to put on the truck . . . yeah, so then why would I need the truck? I called Toyota, had them put their Prius expert on the phone, and he told him the clever little trick for getting it out of gear . . . Maybe a Model-T would be easier?? (though I read that people often broke their arms cranking those).

Not a fan of automatic toilets...for the reasons listed above, especially William's 'unnatural' comment. They give me that "you only have so long to do your business and then get out" feeling, although sometimes they fail in their duty and I have to hunt for the tiny button on the wall. I like the toilets in (I think) Portland's airport, where you get to choose which way to push the handle. Water conservation. Made sense to me anyway.
We still have to push a button to get hand cleanser around here, but I'd rather do that than find out someone used the last towel. There is something to be said for the wall dryers (I think Harley mentioned one where you slip your hands in and they dry in a second or two).
Like Ramona, I'd love an auto-maid :o) Give me more time to do what I want to do, like bake, write, go for walks, etc. And as for cruise control--once I figured it out I loved it. Keeps my legs from getting cramped on long trips and I can 'dance to the music' :o) I'm getting better about using the GPS too.
Have a great Martin Luther King Holiday. I'm lunching with a friend at a cool cafe inside an old (really 19th century) newspaper building over in Urbana. NOTHING is automatic there, at least not where I can see it. I can't wait!

European toilets fascinate me. No two I've ever seen have been the same, which begs the question: Do they make these one at a time? Seriously, they are all different, and it's necessary to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to flush them every single time. My favorites are the ones with two different flush modes, and the fully automatic one I used in the Paris Flea Market. It was Japanese, I think, and when I stood up the seat entirely rotated, changing the cover, it flushed itself, and the lights went out. Luckily, I had a small penlight in my backpack or I might still be there.

Never mind the automatic menu-maker - give me the automated cook! Hank, your story about the door made me think about oooold Star-Trek (original series) outtakes - one of the most common was Kirk, Spock, or Dr. McCoy bouncing off a door that failed to slide open.

I just finished reading Sally Gunning's "The Widow's War" (fabulous book), set in Massachusetts in 1761, and am entirely grateful for automation. Except for toilets, of course.

Karen,
Parisian toilets fascinate also Belgian. In Belgium, the word is singular, "la toilette", in France it's in plural "les toilettes". A common Belgian joke about the French is that the word is plural in France because you have to try several in order to find one that is clean.

Soooo....I said to my son once that one day before I can't drive anymore I'd like to have a car with a fob. They seem so hoity toity to me. I haven't had a car that I felt could make it to Key West and back since 1980 so I get totally spoiled and confused when I rent a car for a road trip.
I have this thing about power windows and automatic transmissions. I'd like to be able if I went into a canal to roll down the window and swim out. And then when window motors break it's never in the up position. I was in rehearsal last year and had one power window drop so hard it cracked the glass. I came out and said I knew I didn't leave it open. New motor and new window. I couldn't go anywhere until it was fixed. I don't want to tell you what it cost.(Well this is Miami.)
If the transmission goes out I want to be able to blame myself. Ditto for the window cranks.
As for toilets I think it is the noise that bothers me. Kind of like the loud ones on the actual airplane. Maybe they're warming your ears up for that sucked into the stratosphere claustrophobia feeling.
I guess I'd just rather do things for myself.
Doors are for gentlemen to open anyways.
Just saying.

Love the GPS! With that and cruise control and a good book on CD, I can actually make long car trips. I've been warned, though, not to let that idle foot get too far into rest mode. A friend's daughter needed to brake suddenly and found she'd let her foot get tangled up somehow. . .
"The Widow's War" is magnificent! I got so angry -- told all my Readers and Stitchers friends to read it. The sequel "Bound" is terrific, too, maybe even better. . .
now back to "The Other Boleyn Girl."

I posted earlier so if this turns out to be a double post, sorry.

Before I comment on today's topic I have to say...CHOCOLATE MILK OVER MINI FROSTED WHEAT!! Are you kidding? Sounds like the breakfast of champions.

The thing that freaks me out is the automatic plastic covers for toilet seats. Either you push a button or an electric eye senses you in the stall and the plastic on the seat whirls away and a clean sheet whirls into place. Freaky.

The best automatic invention evah??? The automatic timer on the coffee pot. :)

Work has auto toilet flush & water faucets. Which is fine, but when I go to public restrooms I expect it. Don't know how many times I've backtracked to manually flush the toilet or turn off the water.

Paulina, you can set your computers to automatically turn on and off at a certain time. The computers in my classroom work this way and it's a huge timesaver.

Love the automatic toliets because I don't like touching things when there's no possible way the last person washed their hands before touching the flusher.

Stuck, you don't touch those things! You use your foot!!

How about an automatic raise?
Don't mind the automatic toilets. But the faucets drive me nuts. When I put my purse in a sink, it has an automatic faucet and drenched the purse.

When I traveled to England on a guided tour there was a free standing state of the art stainles steel toilet right in the middle of a charming little square. I put my coin in the slot, the door swung open and I proceeded to enter and do my toilette. When I approached the sink and began to wash my hands the automatic door opened as I stood in plain view to the villagers in the square. I hastily finished washing my hands and left before the day shut and trapped me inside. That was one time that I was grateful not be caught with my pants down.

Can I just say that I'm loving my new Keurig coffee maker? I got it for Christmas, and I can make my first cup of the day in under 2 minutes. I'm the only coffee drinker in the house, so it's awesome not having to wait for a pot to brew. And I can brew a different flavor or blend for each cup, if I'm so inclined.

Laura, I got one too. We aren't big coffee drinkers, so the Keurig is perfect! Have you tried tea and hot chocolate with it too?

Hank, great blog! Karen, I have a similar issue. My biggest question about automatic restroom appliances is usually - Why only one or two items? Why not all of them? What's the point in having the toilet flush automatically and the water and soap dispenser come on automatically and then have to punch the hand drier? OR Having an automatic toilet, push faucet handle, automatic soap dispenser and crank hand towel dispenser? It seems every time I go into a restroom, I get one or two (and sometimes three) out of four, but I don't remember EVER getting four out of four that were automatic. Weird!

Ark/Cyndi - When the reconstructed Tennessee Welcome Center first opened around Bristol TN/VA on I-81, it had the automatic covers slinking over the toilet seats. Evidently they were inefficient or too costly, because after a few years they were gone.

Karen in Ohio - I was at a dinner event in Europe - Italy, I think, but don't remember. Anyway, they had those revolving toilet seats and everyone was coming out and sending everyone to the bathroom to check them out.

And we DO take automation for granted. At a very old restaurant in Genoa (that one I remember), everyone was standing at the sink moving hands back and forth trying to get the water on. Only they didn't have automatic sensors 100 years ago or whenever the building was last updated. There was a pedal on the floor to step on to turn on the water.

Everyone who figured it out stood back and watched the next person repeat the trial-and-error, trying not to snicker.

William, I am reminded of the times before automatic garage door openers. It was a little trouble to get in and out of the car but was more reliable. One afternoon I returned from work, engaged the automatic door opener, entered the garage ane then heard a horrible clunk. The garage door mechanism had failed and the garage door fell across the roof of my car. Dazed, I got out of the car, and foolishly declared to my husband "I think the garage door fell on my car." Everytime I enter the garage I have a flashback of this incident.
Hank, the one item that I wish they would invent is a psychic sensor that would tell me if the menu that I choose for that evening's dinner would be a flop or a success.

Oh, and Hank, I forgot to say that I laughed out loud at your description of the "what's for dinner" conversation. I think you've been eavesdropping in my house.

Becky, my husband just asked the other day if there was hot chocolate for the Keurig. I need to get some.

Marie, the same thing happened to my wife. The garage door smashed the rear of the luggage rack. It happened in late December and I remember spending several hours in the cold fixing the stupid thing.

Hank, the "what's for dinner" conversation happens here also. Because we alternate cooking and cleanup duties we have the added discussion once we've picked the menus as to who gets to fix what. "You've already got two easy ones, I'll trade you the Fajitas for the Chicken Marsala."

Pedal-operated sinks are way more sensible than automatic or hand-operated, and I'd support their use everywhere. The only potential problem with them is with users in wheelchairs. Or using crutches. Don't ask.

My needs for automatic stuff are few, but I wish all the financial stuff I use was equally available on the Internet. One credit card is completely unusable for downloading transactions to Quicken, which is where I load every single penny of our financial life (and have since the very first version of Quicken, and then QuickBooks). Why can't they all work the same way? I don't want to get rid of this one credit card because it's Macy's, and they give me lots of gift certificates to use in their store, one of which is the closest department store to our house. But I sure wish they'd get digital.

Oh, and we don't have the worry of having the garage door fall on the car. When we had our garage built 11 years ago we just didn't get a door put on it! I designed it, and foolishly made the dimensions much wider and taller than standard doors, so a custom door will eventually cost the proverbial arm and leg. But it sure is handy.

I'm back! ANd it was great. Gave away lots and lots of advance copies of DRIVE TIME (It's so nice to see them going away with new readers. I always wonder: where are they going? Will they be loved?)

I also scored for ARCs (you didnt think I'd stay in the book the WHOLE time) Alan Bradley's folo to Sweetness at the Bottom etc, and the new Andrew Gross and Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani. Lovely!

And you all are hilarious. I wish I could see you. Someday we should have a photo gallery. Or each person send in three photos, and we have to guess who you really are.

And oh, Elaine! The automatic faucet dousing the purse. EXACTLY. What a dumb dumb thing.

Got to get food. Back later!

Are you all at work today? Or did you have the day off?

I'm all for the automatic dinner maker. I can't stand that decision. It'd be better if people handed me ingredients and said - cook!
Also, automatic bill payer (and inputter of cash from Source on High), bed maker and, while we're at it, bath drawer.

Too much? I think not.

Hank, I suspect some of these fine people blog from work . . . I could never have done that during school hours while I was teaching, but thanks to sarcoidosis and a moldy school, I opted for an early retirement while I could still breath. I do so enjoy breathing! Now back to the other Boleyn girl. . .

I was at work! Home now, thank God.

Me, too, at work. There are no holidays in TV.

Sarah--I'm with you. Just TELL me what to cook. Happy to oblige. Just dont;make me decide. We have figured it out, chez us, that Jonathan is in charge of Thursdays. Don't ask for suggestions, I said, don't ask for advice. What ever you want is fine,and I am staying out of it. It is BLISS. Al_S, is that how you handle it?

Yes, STMAry, breathing is good. How goes it for the Boleyns? (And why is that always SUCH a good story?) The movie was not so hot, though...

Something about this blog makes me feel I can confess this: last week I was at the carwash and the guy asked if I'd like gas with my carwash and I said, "Yeah, I do need gas. You can do that for me? How's that work?" and he just nodded at the gas thing I was standing next to, which has always been right there, right where I pull my car up to the carwash. And then he filled my car with gas.

Probably thinking, "lady, you are so dumb, how'd anyone give you a driver's license?"

That's okay, Harley; work it, if it works! LOL

Hank, after 35 years of child-rearing, and having unsolicited opinions about what I chose to make, I usually don't care what anyone else thinks. I cook about five nights a week. So I just make what I want to make, and if my husband doesn't like it he's welcome not to eat it. Must say, he generally likes it, but since he won't go out to eat, he has to take what he gets. :-)

I've been working from home -- no school, but plenty of work to get done nonetheless.

Harley, that's hilarious. I'm so used to pumping my own now that I have a hard time in NJ, where the attendants are required to pump (or we're required to let them?). Same thing somewhere else I've driven recently - Oregon maybe? Maybe that's automation-by-person, instead of automation-by-machine???

Today, I felt so virtuous. I cooked Hamburger Stroganoff in my slow cooker. I set the meal down in front of my husband. As usual he asked me what it was because it seems that everything I cook is mystery meat. I told him it was beef stroganoff. He said it didn't look like stroganoff and it did not look like it came from a crockpot. Then I waited for the right moment for the critique. Nothing uttered. Hmmm. Then he said with a whimper that yes it was the best meal that he ever tasted. He lied. It was nasty and next time I will use sirloin NOT meaatballs. Another dinner that will go down in infamy. Tomorrow the telephone speed dial a la Roseanne Barr.

Harley, good for you! It's been years since I found any place that would pump the gas for me. I didn't know it was still possible.
Marie, too funny! Way back when I was married, we had a rating system for new recipes: once a week, once a month, every few months, once a year, never again . . . .

Hank, I'm finding this book very engrossing (vaguely remember the movie being much less so). The plotting and grasping for power makes me glad to be away from the center, a "nobody" -- shades of Emily Dickinson . . . and also glad that women have more say in our own lives . . .

Mary, I LOVE your rating system!
Glad that you are enjoying The Other Boleyn Girl. I saw the movie and was hoping for more.

Yes, TOBG was terrifying, I thought..but incredibly compelling.

Hsrley, I think you handled that beautifully. You got him to provide gasoline. Just when you needed it. Perfect. Well done.

Marie, yes, once I made spaghetti squash. It was really cool that it comes out just like spaghetti. Except it was DISGUSTING.

Hank, I think that spaghetti squash is right up there with mashed cauliflower. Diet chefs are constantly trying to convince us that cauliflower can be substituted for mashed potatoes. I think not especially at Thanksgiving!

I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory's Tudor series. The Other Boleyn Girl is a good read, and a fascinating glimpse into that period. Haven't seen the movie, but then, most movies don't live up to the book, so I'm not surprised to hear it was not as good.

Eating spaghetti squash is in no way like eating pasta -- but it's really good squash! This time I fixed it with hamburger, onions, a little cabbage, seasonings, not bad at all.

There is a WW recipe for using spaghetti squash in a pie with coconut flavoring . . . yep, vegetables for dessert . . . You scoff? What about pumpkin pie?

Karen, want to recommend more books??

Hank, love this subject. Was in a Wal-mart once expecting the paper towel dispenser to be automatic and standing there with wet hands. Another gal was standing next to me and both of us are looking at this thing trying to figure it out. In comes the cleaning gal, sees our dilemma and proceeds to push on the lever on the side and out came the towel. We all had a good laugh.
Oh, and spaghetti squash...put some butter, salt and pepper if you ever venture cooking it again-delish!
Enjoying TLC immensely here in northern Canada!

. . . and I just discovered that a bit of maple syrup is great on acorn squash!

Okay. I promise you I have a delcious recipe for mashed cauliflower. And I'll put it here asap. We call it faux tatoes. :-)

STM--Spaghetti squash pie? All righty then. Let's see that recipe. I love you, and I know you wouldn't steer us wrong. But I hafta say...I'm going to take some convincing.

Haven't made it in years (but now that some of us are supporting healthy choices together, I may do so). I wasn't sure which cookbook, but thanks to Google, I found a similar recipe.
http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1737,146174-237207,00.html

Mashed cauliflower would be a good choice for me, since potatoes are forbidden.

I keep trying to open my front door with my car key fob - always feel pretty silly.

I love spaghetti squash, though it's no replacement for pasta. Gotta have my grains! I also like mashed (or unmashed) cauliflower.

Fob for turning on the shower; one for turning off the stove from across the house when you realize something is about to boil over; one for (YES!, Nancy and Avis) opening the front door of the house when your hands are full.
Today's auto designers ought to be able to come up with simple mechanical solutions to 'what do you do when the fob doesn't work?' or 'what do you do when the electronic window doesn't respond to the switch?', etc.
Great topic, Hank, and discussion!

Hi Hank, I got a chuckle out of your story. In June I was visiting my brother for a family picnic and had the misfortune of bouncing off of his sliding screen door. My excuse was that the sun and shadows together somehow made it appear that the sliding door was open instead of the screen. We were all outside on his deck and I was going inside the house with Diet Pepsi in hand only to have the rude awakening of running smack dab into closed the screen door. I of course immediately looked to see if anyone else had seen this disaster and noone had. Later in the evening I mentioned it and found out that my father had done the very same thing. lol

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