A gadget, AKA gizmo, is defined by Dictionary.com as a "mechanical contrivance or device; any ingenious article." Ingenious seems to be the key word for making us happy.
A quick search on-line found just about as many articles about how technology and gadgets can make someone unhappy as there were for the happiness camp. I submit that if you view a gadget just as a tool to get something done, happiness might not even be considered in the equation. But, if a device is ingenious, the wonder and awe of it and its inventor can be euphoric. That's why so many tool sheds and kitchens are filled with gizmos and weird tools that they may never be used. Before I became a full-time RV'er, I was a member of that club. There's just no room in my 5th wheel for gadgets I won't ever use.
For myself, I keep a plastic miter box in my truck's tool cabinet because I never know when I might need to cut a piece of trim. I have actually used it three times in the two years we've been on the road. My other gadget pleasure is a tube of bungee straps of every size and shape. Interestingly, there are specialty straps made for specific tie-down solutions, such as for use with grommets in tarps and screens, with tent pegs and for multi-girth items. I love using them.
I received a few nice responses on this topic and here are some of them (I've edited or paraphrased some):
Paul H.- My favorite is my Contour Gauge Duplicator (This device easily copies any shape or duplicate a profile exactly for woodworking or tile flooring/linoleum installation where you want to replicate the shape of moldings or match cut outs around door casings and pipes)... This tool it's not one that I use all the time, but when I need it, nothing else can replace what it does.
Kathy B.- I love my electric corkscrew! Net only does it make wine bottles easier to open, it never breaks the cork.
Cindy V.- Dave really enjoys splitting wood with his cast iron splitter. It has a wedge in the bottom of it and when you place a 6-inch-thick log in it and hit it with a rubber mallet, it splits the log in two. Not only does it make campfires easier and quicker to fire up, but it's a much more enjoyable experience than using a hatchet or axe.
Nadyne H.- My Cuisinart ice cream freezer! Living with a tiny, RV freezer, we could only buy quart containers of ice cream. Add to that we only like high quality ice cream and the cost is about $5 to $7 a quart! That, and we have to drive to a grocery store. It's so convenient to have real ingredients on hand, throw them together in my Cuisinart freezer and voila! Homemade ice cream! This is one of our special treats living on the road.
Rich and DizzyLizie- The Air Conditioner silencing device has been great! The company guy was very smart and made the invention.
Canadian Hellie- Maybe my wine opener is my favorite gadget. I've had plenty of wine openers and some were hard to work; others broke; but this one I really like. It's all stainless and it's just a regular screw type opener that I bought, probably at a grocery store or maybe even at Walmart. I've had one similar; but it wasn't stainless - this one is much heavier than that other one. I bought a completely wooden wine opener with two turning nuts at a Portuguese Store in the Iron Bound section of Newark, NJ, about 15 years ago. You place it on top of the cork and turn the to upper wing nut until the screw pulls itself into the cork. Continue turning the lower nut in the same direction and it will just lift the cork off the bottle without any pulling.
Jacki H.- I bought a vegetable sheeter attachment for our KitchenAid mixer. I've used it twice, because it needs a lot of space and it's a little hard to get the hang of it, but it made far better thin pieces of vegetables than any other gadget I own! We made zucchini noodles for a pasta replacement with the sheets ( I cut them into thin strips, was way better and thinner than the zoodle makers). I also used it to make sweet potato sheets for a sweet potato lasagna with bechamel, which was awesome!
Artster- I think that technology, in general, is my favorite gadget. Without any of the high tech gadgets I would be more stressed and less happy. Not that I can’t temporarily do without any and all of them for a bit - but an extended period would be devastating. From the microwave to my cell phones/iPad and laptop to tv’s and remotes to smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and in-cab cameras to all the photography gear and many more items. Happiness is measured, for me, by how stressed I feel. The less stressed the more happy - whether a gadget or just living life in general.
As usual, I'll end this piece with a quote, this time from American writer Roger Zelazny: "I have a fondness for technology. It's great to spend hours puttering around with mechanical things gotten from junkyards and visualizing what their use might be. Especially if you come across a gadget or tool and you don't know what it is and you try to figure it out. I'm fascinated by processes, whatever they might be."
Please feel free to add your own comments and memories below!
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.