Thursday, May 5, 2011


I had a brainstorm the other day as I was leafing through a catalog of office machines.  On one page, I found copiers of every description--ones that reduced, enlarged, collated, you name it.  On the facing page was an array of shredders—the Wall Street banker’s variety--that would slice documents into strips 7/32” of an inch wide and then, as if that weren’t enough, chew each strand into tiny bits as well.

Now, since statistics show that the majority of photocopies end up in the trash unread, why not combine a copier and shredder in one?  It would shred documents as soon as they emerged from the copier, without the bother of distributing them to people who’d just throw them out anyway. Now that would be a timesaver.

And speaking of gratuitous information:  Every month I receive a barrage of media kits featuring homeowner surveys of various kinds—statistics on what type of appliances Americans want in their kitchens, what rooms they like to eat in, that sort of thing. They’re put out by manufacturers to sell a product, so naturally they’re biased in one direction or another.  Still, some of the results may surprise you:

•  Contrary to the truism that most households live in their kitchens, over forty percent of Americans claim—I say claim—that they have most family conversations in the living room. Sort of puts the lie to the Cleavers, doesn’t it?  If this finding is true, it contradicts the current planning trends of either downsizing the living room or omitting it altogether. On the other hand, it may just show that forty percent of Americans are liars.  

•  Americans overwhelmingly agree that if they could afford to remodel just one room in their house, it would be the kitchen.  Fortunately, this fact dovetails nicely with the old real estate maxim that regards kitchens (along with baths) as one of the few types of remodels that return their investment when the house is sold.  

Surprisingly, only 15% of Americans chose the bathroom as the first room they’d remodel.  Still, that was good enough to take second place on the wish list. 

•  Almost half of all homeowners would like an island cooktop in their kitchen.  Apparently, these are the people who’ve never worked at one before. While cooking islands may look great in TV kitchens, they’re patently impractical for real-life cooking.  For one thing, they require both cooking utensils and sloppy ingredients to be needlessly carried across an aisle.  Worse, they’re also tremendous space hogs, gobbling up dozens of precious square feet in useless aisle area.  My advice?  Unless you’ve got both money and space to burn, skip the island kitchen.  

•  Ostensibly, one in seven Americans pine for a trash compactor--an appliance that essentially turns twenty pounds of trash into twenty pounds of trash.  Actually, with all the recycling going on nowadays, most households should have very little garbage left over to compact. Ah well—chalk one up for the marketing industry.

•  Two out of three Americans want a garbage disposer. No big surprise there. Curiously, though, people in the eastern half of the nation demand batch-feed  models—those in which the stopper has to be installed to turn the machine on—while in the West, people overwhelmingly prefer continuous-feed models.  Apparently, Westerners still like to live dangerously.  Interesting, no?  

Hey, get away from that shredder!  

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