Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Week's Column

A few days after Christmas, I went shopping with the money I was given for Christmas and a coupon in hand.
I walked in the store and scanned the shelves for the purchase that awaited me.
There it was, in the kitchen appliance section. It was sitting there, waiting for me.
I got in line and shuffled the box around, trying hard not to drop it as I waited. At the register I carefully gave the cashier my item and coupon.
Bonus, it was on sale.
Back home, I pulled my prize from its box. I flipped through the owner’s manual for operating instructions. After a quick rinse, there it was, sitting on my countertop next to my coffee pot.
My brand new Belgian waffle maker.
I felt like a kid trying out Christmas toys as I scoured the Internet for ideas about things to make with it.
Pinterest gave me a quick and easy inaugural recipe All it took was a can of refrigerated cinnamon roles. Place four in at a time, flip the mechanism and soon you had four little cinnamon roll waffles. I’ve made those far too many times for my waistline.
Then it was time to make the waffles. I went to the grocery and “gasp.” The shelf with the Belgian waffle mix was empty. Evidently, I wasn’t the only person to get the amazing machine this Christmas.So I waited. And made some more cinnamon roll waffles.
Then I went to the grocery on the other side of town. Eureka, the mix was there.
I waited again for the perfect waffle making time, Saturday morning.
With coffee made, the waffle making began. First the batter was poured into the machine and then the mechanism flipped. The wait continued until the green light flashed. The waffle was ready.
Opening the top revealed a nice, thick, golden, circular waffle. The smell of pastry filled the kitchen.
After plating, pats of butter melted into the crevasses of the waffle and the yummy goodness of maple syrup was added. The syrup made the house smell even more delightful.
At the table with my cup of coffee and two dogs sitting on the floor at the ready in case I dropped a piece, I ate my waffle. The delicious taste of a fresh made Belgian waffle made a great start to a Saturday, bite after delicious bite.
In short, I love my new Belgian waffle maker. I just wish it had an additional magical element that made every delicious thing made from it zero calories. A girl can dream.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

This week's column

Dude, where's my hover board?
It’s 2012 and many of you might be asking, “Where’s my flying car?”
A good question indeed.
If you are a fan of the science fiction genre, there are many things you might have expected to have by now. For example, when Marty McFly goes into the future in “Back to the Future II,” he goes to the year 2015. That’s only three years from now and we were expected to have flying cars, hover boards, self-drying clothes and automatic lace-up shoes, among other things. As of now, that doesn’t look much like a reality in three short years.
We’re not powering our flying DeLoreans with garbage either. The closest we get to that kind of “green” technology is the electric car, which in reality has been around a while; it’s just been improved a bit.
“Blade Runner” takes place in 2019, also featuring flying cars. While that’s still seven years into the future, too, it might be a stretch. Will we also have human-looking replicants, clones or androids, and will they dream of electric sleep? If you got that reference, you have my nerdish respect.
What about “2001: A Space Odyssey?” We don’t have major space travel, hyper sleep or Hal. Computers have come a long way but not to the state of Hal. Well, maybe that’s a good thing.
Not really given a 2012 creation date in sci-fi films, we also do not have food particlizers, time travel, laser weapons or any sort of robot that looks like those in the movies. And without holographic messaging, how in the world could anyone let Obi-Wan know he is their only hope?
Sci-fi films also often gave a somewhat bleak picture of what our world would look like in 2012. As in “12 Monkeys,” a virus would have wiped out most of mankind by now. And in “The Matrix,” the machines took over in the early 21st century and humans became batteries.And don’t forget “The Terminator” and Skynet. The computers would have become self-aware, eventually taking over in 1997, 2004 or 2011, depending on which timeline you follow.
Maybe I should be nicer to my computer.
In more modern versions of sci-fi, the threat of a world destroyed by nuclear war has been replaced by a view that the world will be destroyed by some sort of man-created natural disaster.
But we do have a few things seen in sci-fi in the past. We have communicators that can fit in the palm of our hands and flip open to talk to anyone. They’re called cellphones. Anyone else out there remember the early days of mobile phones that were in a bag you had to get out of your car to use?
Think of the technology that’s held in the palm of our hands. The data that used to be stored in computers that took up entire rooms now can be carried around with you. It’s mind-blowing.
We also have hands-free voice commands. While the intelligence and independence of Hal is not a realization, we literally can talk to our computers, cars and other devices with voice-command technology. We can sit in our cars and tell our radio to come on or tell our phone to dial a number.
The technology that reminds me most of a sci-fi film is touch-screen technology. Not that long ago, sci-fi films showed a future where you can move and transfer data on a screen by touch. My iPod Touch makes me see the reality of how the creative minds of past sci-fi films could see the possibility of the future.
It’s kind of cool when you think back.
We might not have flying cars yet, but ten years ago I didn’t imagine a touch-screen tablet as a reality either. Who knows what 2012 or the near future can bring?
Maybe one day we will teleport, travel to the far reaches of space — if NASA gets funding again — or ride on hovering skateboards? According to “Star Trek: First Contact,” we’ll have warp drive by 2063. Well have to check back on that one in 51 years.