Month: July 2009

Growing need for powerboards

I have been trying to find somewhere accessible to plug in my mini-notebook in my office and I’ve run out of power points. Again. How is this possible?

Let’s count them. My office at the moment has two power points in the wall, on opposite sides of the room. One has a single, 6-point power board, into which is plugged in:

  1. a desk lamp
  2. old camera battery charger (the batteries are never the same, are they!)
  3. cordless phone charger No 2. (No. 1 is in the other office)
  4. phone connection for the cable TV (so we can order pay-per-view movies)
  5. empty at the moment, but the old laptop is usually plugged in here.

I seem to remember removing a phone that needed power when I decided against the job where I’d need to wear a headset.

The power point nearest my desk has a 4-point power board with surge protector, into which is plugged:

  1. Bose Wave Radio
  2. desk lamp
  3. new camera battery charger
  4. 5-point power board with surge protector

This second power board has:

  1. laptop
  2. external hard drive
  3. laptop stand
  4. MP3-player charger
  5. empty at the moment but likely to get the floor lamp back now that it is no longer needed for a guest bedroom

Fortunately I don’t have to accommodate the printers, cable modem and the old desktop computer, which are in the other office with their own spiderweb of cables and power boards.

Finding enough power points is a constant struggle. Why do we have so many electrical appliances?

Phones didn’t used to need electricity, and now they do. The cordless phone has 4 handsets, and we can usually find one when we need it, but they all have their own chargers that need power.

Speaking of the other office, it has a single 4-point powerboard on the wall. Into that we have:

  1. an 8-point powerboard with surge protection
  2. a 4-point powerboard
  3. cordless phone base unit with answering machine
  4. kept empty for visiting laptops

These two powerboards have in no particluar order:

  1. the old black-and-white laser printer
  2. the more recent multi-function-printer that also scans, copies and faxes
  3. the flatbed scanner
  4. the slide-and-negative scanner
  5. charger for the husband’s PDA
  6. desktop computer
  7. the monitor for the desktop computer
  8. wireless router
  9. cable modem
  10. desk lamp
  11. empty

Our phone chargers, one for each phone because they change over time, are downstairs in the bedroom where we are more likely to remember the phone when leaving the house. The bedroom, of course, also requires two desk lamps, clock radio, mozzie zapper and air filter.

Never mind the mess of cables and power boards behind the TV, catering for the cable TV receiver, DVD player, and home theatre system! We got rid of the record player, cassette deck and the VCR.

No wonder we use so much more electricity than we used to! It makes me wonder how many of these appliances are on standby, drawing power when they’re not being used. The desktop computer certainly does, it’s on all the time because the laser printer is plugged into it. The cable modem and wireless router are always on. The cable TV receiver is always on, even when it’s off. Clock radios, phone chargers, battery chargers… how much power do they draw just to keep that little light turned on?

Probably a lot more than we think.

Do we really need all this stuff?

Would your great-grandmothers be horrified by what you eat?

I’ve just read a quote from a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, in a blog post by Chris Peterson, a legend in the field of Positive Psychology. The blog is about his reaction to the book (all good) and what food means to us today (not all good). The quote is this:

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother would not recognize as food” (p. 148)

This is such good advice on so many levels.

We may not know exactly what our great-grandmothers cooked for their families, but we can easily recognise food that they would have been horrified by:

  • breakfast cereal in a box
  • mashed potato in a box – just add water!
  • individually-wrapped cheese slices
  • fish and chips
  • many other examples I’m sure you can name

OK, I admit that our great-grandmothers would have been horrified by the food from other countries as well. None of mine would ever have seen pasta, or pizza, or stir-fries, or baba ganoush,or any of the very many foods we now take for granted. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

Over-processed food is what I was thinking when I read this. Our great-grandmothers didn’t have supermarkets, and probably bought very little from the store, as little as possible. Many grew their own food. Mine milked cows, made butter, jam, and the bread it went on. They probably killed and plucked chickens and a great many other tasks that I would find distasteful. But they knew exactly what they were feeding their families.

It probably never occured to them that there might be anything that masqueraded as food that was actually bad for them.

If you are very lucky you have recipes passed down from your grandmothers and great grandmothers. I don’t, but I still remember Gran’s apple pies. My Mum never could make pies like Gran. The point is that they made them from fresh ingredients, they didn’t buy them from Woolworths.