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Judy Spooner's column viewpoint: Unlike the Sippy, some inventions don't stack up

When cable television stations hit the January doldrums, they resort to "Top 10" programming. Shows include the top 10, or top 100, snack foods, places to visit or inventions.

I started to make my own list of top 10 inventions but I ended up with a list of inventions that didn't make the list. Some inventions only appeal to a limited audience.

For example, consider those "How It's Made" television shows. During bowl games, if you don't want to watch "Puppy Cam" on Animal Planet, you watch "How It's Made," which doesn't make my top invention list but is probably on husband Gary's list. "It's interesting," he said, "like that show on how saddles are made." I rest my case.

My list of important inventions doesn't include car alarms. No one pays any attention to them. If you hear one in a parking lot, you just assume someone can't figure out how to turn it off.

One of the most important inventions, however, is the no-spill Sippy Cup for toddlers. It's unfathomable how much car upholstery and home carpets have been saved from the ravages of baby formula stains. Grandparents love them because they know what life with a toddler is like without them.

Remote controls contribute nothing to the good of humanity, but they're an important invention, especially the remote unlock feature on your car key. How else can you find a pewter-colored mid-size car in a parking lot? If it's an electronic gift, no matter how much you tell yourself that you don't need a remote, you'll use it.

"The thing that holds bananas until they're ripe is a good invention," said daughter Margie, "along with plastic bags and throw-away food containers." I can't argue with that nomination.

Paper towels were a very important invention, I said. I don't like to admit it, but I'm lost if I'm without them for even few days.

Before there was toilet paper, Margie said, my father-in-law said people used corn cobs.

"I've never bought that story," I said. "How fast would that have filled an outdoor privy? I'm not buying it."

Salad shooters are not a good invention. Lots of people agree with me because you can always find one at a garage sale and they're always on clearance at Target.

Another invention that golfers love is the ball retriever. With a scooper on the end, and extensions, it was used to get balls out of ponds and lakes. However, many golf courses now have signs by water saying ball retrieving is not allowed because it slows the pace of play.

Gary, when asked about the invention of the ball retriever, told a story about playing with his friends. When a ball went into the water, his friend pulled out his retriever. Another of his friends offered to help. He took the retriever, heaved it into the water and said: "We don't have time for this. I'll give you a new ball."

Most of us who've had to sit and wait for a ball to be found would have applauded.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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