In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at email@example.com
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs Every woman’s worst nightmare arrived in Las Vegas last week.
Making its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show was the ThinQ Smart Refrigerator by LG. This nightmare of a refrigerator will tell you not to reach for the leftover lasagna, not to put half and half in your coffee and not to top your pie with whipped cream. Instead, the ThinQ Smart Refrigerator “allows you to input your BMI (Body Mass Index) and the target weight loss, and, using voice recognition, the fridge will tell you whether you’ve made the healthiest choice available or if there’s a better one.”
Can you imagine anything worse? Do you want your appliances to talk back to you? Me neither. The last thing I need at 5:30 a.m when I reach for my half and half is some sassy refrigerator telling me I’ve made an unhealthy food choice.
“Hey, Joanne! Yoo-hoo. Friggy here. Why not reach for a carrot stick instead of a cheese stick? You know you’re going to thank me in the morning.”
I don’t think so. That refrigerator may have a few dents in it by morning.
This “smart” refrigerator has a camera inside that allows you to see what is inside from your LG smartphone. I don’t need it. I have a teenage son. He has a photographic memory of all food items. He may not be able to locate his backpack or house keys, but he can tell you in no uncertain terms what is in the refrigerator, what he would like to be in the refrigerator and what he would like me to make him for dinner based on what is in the refrigerator.
Besides, when you live with a teenager, pictures can be deceiving. Just because you see a Popsicle box in the freezer doesn’t mean there are Popsicles in it. He has been known to take the last Popsicle and leave an empty box in the refrigerator. I guess the camera can allow you to see what is inside the refrigerator from your smartphone, so if you’re at the grocery store wondering whether you have a stick of butter at home, you can look inside to see. But doesn’t that take all the fun out of it? You can never have too much butter.
And because we live in a small town, a significant fraction of my social life occurs at the grocery store, so repeated visits are a good thing.
The ThinQ Smart Refrigerator can inventory its very own contents and suggest recipes, but that’s pointless when you have a teenager. The refrigerator’s contents disappear faster than you can say, “What should I have for dinner?” It is not uncommon for me to come home with four bags of groceries and two hours later have nothing in the house to eat.
Besides, I don’t need an appliance to make me feel guilty. I am perfectly capable of inflicting ample food guilt on myself, thank you very much. I can only imagine the future nightmare if other appliance manufacturers jump on the bandwagon and all household appliances start to talk. Here’s what I imagine they might say.
Toaster: “Don’t stuff a bagel in me. A thin piece of low-calorie bread with no butter is a better choice for breakfast.”
Microwave: “Hey! That spaghetti sauce you reheated last night splattered all over me. Clean me up!”
Coffee maker: “That’s your fifth cup of coffee. Aren’t you awake yet?”
No, in the case of the ThinQ Smart Refrigerator, technology has gone too far. I’ll stick with my old-fashioned refrigerator whose primary function is to keep food cold. And just to celebrate its low-tech ways, I’m going to buy a new box of baking soda to put inside it.
Phew. I feel better already.
Now, get out of my way. I’m about to have a cinnamon roll for breakfast, no matter what the refrigerator has to say.