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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Washer of the Future

11th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

My new washer and dryer have a nasty habit of beeping like robots. I have never before had so much cause to say “it’s the newfangled kind with all the bells and whistles.”
Come to think of it I have never before thought of what newfangled means. Apparently, the word comes from fangelen, coming from middle English, and meaning ‘inclined to take,’ as ‘I’m fangelen for a cola with my lunch.’ When the saying came about to fangle was something you started or recently procured. Like, “my new fangle is fencing” or “Bob has a new fangle, he collects hats.”
Now ‘fangle’ means novelty, whim, or ornament, and it generally holds derogatory tone. Words tend to change over time but fangle is no longer accepted by my spellchecker. Fangled and newfangled are still in there but the root word is not.
In any case, I found the new washer and dryer to be rather fangled with lights and chimes that scare the dog out of the garage. They say that these new machines are much better for the environment, but all those lights just look like a bad idea. I mean, next they will be getting ring tones for washers and dryers so you can dance when your clothes are clean.
Another bit I would rather not have is the locking washer door. It locks when the washer is on so children stay out of the things I think, but what if it gets stuck or the power goes out? Then you would have to break the machine open to get your things out again.  
The only real tradition is change, but the trend to make things more computerized, flashy, or just plain complicated are changes I can live without.

The future is like the past only newer,

Richard Leland Neal