Perhaps it’s only me, but I find it annoying programming the temperature each time I want to dunk a tea bag into a mug, but there you have it.  Progress. Options. Advances. Or as I call them: technological overreaches.

Have you ever wanted a pot of water that was precisely, oh, let’s say, 76 degrees celsius?

Or maybe you wanted water that was just a smidge off the boil, at, say, 94 degrees celsius? Perhaps you have a specific use for lukewarm water?  Not from the tap, mind you: kettle lukewarm. So, say somewhere around 43 degrees celsius.

No. I didn’t think so.

But that’s what kettles do today.

You program them. What’s it going to be? Tepid? Bath water warm? A vigorous, yet not roiling, boil? The days of being bossed around by your kettle are over! You decide. You!  

Photo from London Drugs

I figure I have heated about a swimming pool worth of water in my lifetime and I have yet to require anything but one temperature. That temperature is best described as a rolling boil. One hundred degrees celsius. Gone are the days of two dictatorial settings: on or off. Now you have choices and life is vastly improved!  Perhaps it’s only me, but I find it annoying programming the temperature each time I want to dunk a tea bag into a mug, but there you have it.  Progress. Options. Advances. Or as I call them: technological overreaches.

There must be some annual event where kettle manufacturers convene to discuss how to make the lowly kettle more alluring. At one of these recent KettleCons, the subject of visuals must have come up. Kettles just weren’t sexy enough! The newest thing in kettles now is that they’re all naked. You can watch the water boil! If that’s not enough, your kettle can now put on a light show. My new kettle is a total entertainment complex. Accompanying each increment in temperature, interior lights change colour inside the kettle. It goes from a cool turquoise to frothing carmine red within a few minutes. Crimson is the indicator that we’ve gone as far as we can go. A lava-like display announces the boiling point. It’s the opposite of the watched kettle that never boils.

A lava-like display announces the boiling point. It’s the opposite of the watched kettle that never boils.

I fear it’s only a matter of time before someone adds flash pots and NASDAQ updates to the toaster.  

Electric toothbrushes are not new. The earliest prototypes date back to 1937. The Swiss began manufacturing an electric toothbrush – the Broxodent – in 1954. By 1959 electric toothbrushes were available in North America and cavities and plaque vanished from the dental landscape.  Okay, no that didn’t happen, but there’s a case to be made for the electric toothbrush. There’s a charitable British organization named Cochrane that debunks health care claims. Their evidence-based work sheds a lot of light on so-called healthcare interventions. The folks at the Cochrane ruled that an electric toothbrush could be a useful aid in reducing plaque and gingival inflammation. But that was back in 2014. Back before Oral-B introduced a bluetooth enabled $300 electric toothbrush. Yes, your toothbrush can now send data to your smartphone with a full report on your dental technique. It can tell you if you’re using too much pressure, not enough pressure, rushing the job, left side dominant or right side dominant. It knows when you brushed, and if you missed a session. And it probably knows if someone used your toothbrush to clean around the faucets while you were watching the kettle.

And it probably knows if someone used your toothbrush to clean around the faucets while you were watching the kettle.

The prevailing scholarship on the electric toothbrush is that they do a fine job … but, barring disability or youthful disregard, so could you if you just put your mind to it.  Technological overreach strikes again.

Photo from Unbranded News.

My washing machine has eleventy-five settings that I never use. My Google home assistant argues with me. My dishwasher does the same lousy job a truculent teenager would do. I think I’m just going to go for a drive and run the 2/90 air-conditioning. That’s where I roll down two windows and go 90k an hour. Old school AC.

No overreach there.


Click here for the recipe (and send me a photo of how yours turns out!)

This week’s question for readers:

Is technology complicating your domestic life or improving it?

All aboard the North Pole Express!

Photo by WCRA

The Bookless Club has partnered with the West Coast Railway Association for this fantastic Christmas giveaway.  The train departs from the Railway Museum in Squamish. Visit for more information about this fabulous package.

Register for my newsletter to receive further instructions for a chance to win this unique railcar experience for 15!

Responses to last week’s question:

Love to entertain friends and family, or is it a chore? What are your tips for making the event manageable?

The secret to hassle-free entertaining? A husband who can cook and set a table!

Larry Donen

We are fortunate to have a lanai (patio) very suitable for entertaining 6-8 people.  Due to the pandemic we did no indoor entertaining, but this summer we discovered the perfect way to feed guests: finger food!  Fancy little potatoes. Cherry tomatoes.  Strips of peppers.  Devilled eggs.  And sweet sour ribs, huli huli chicken wings and kielbasa (already cut up) on the barbecue. Guests helped themselves, nothing got really cold, the food was all there, and there were only plates to wash up.  No cutlery to spread viruses. Perfect!

Irene Slater

One word for almost stress-free entertaining: potluck. Our SWorD (Single Widowed or Divorced) group started out having full on sit-down dinners.  The hostess would set the main course or theme, and we would build on that, as we continue to do.  Now, many have moved to smaller homes and a larger sitdown meal is not feasible.  So, we have moved on to appie and dessert nights instead.  Everyone provides something, so no one carries all the weight.  People are happy to comply and love the variety.  If you aren’t up to the task, there’s always something store-bought in a pinch (Frozen Yorkshire puddings are really quite good!) I concur with not vacuuming before a visit and be sure to turn the lights down and light candles!  Do be sure the bathroom is shiny and clean! Folk congregate to enjoy each others’ company, not to judge someone’s housekeeping!

Sharon Tokar

My fiancé and I are hosting three couples tonight, two are cousins and their spouses and the third, a nephew and wife. Preparations started yesterday but the fretting started a week ago. I’m going to insist my fiancé read your article. She was up until 2:00 am this morning making a tiramisu cake. I have reminded her several times that this is family and no one notices if the house is not dusted. But they DO notice if you run out of wine. We have lots of wine. 

Michael Provenzano

Before the pandemic hit, my wife and I came up with a pre- or post-Christmas party: a cookie exchange and beer tasting.  We supplied appies and a few exotic beers. We encouraged attendees to bring cookies and some strange brew to share with others. It was a hit!

Matthew Jordan 


  1. My personal pet peeve is all the noises that modern contraptions make. A peaceful (and quiet!) co-existence cannot be established. My refrigerator has an annoying alarm that goes off almost instantly when the door sits open and the “refrigerator temperature begins to fall.” I’m rooting around in the vegetable drawer, and this ear-splitting alarm is going off. There’s a different yet equally annoying alarm for if the door accidentally gets left open. I’ve researched how to turn both alarms off, or even how to lower the volume, but the manufacturer considers them both “safety mechanisms”, and no option for their elimination exists. And don’t even get me started about the alarm that goes off when the dishwasher completes its cycle…

  2. My “modern” teakettle, while lacking a temperature indicator, does shut off immediately upon reaching boiling. This provides immense energy savings over the old kettles which can boil away (and it’s the boiling not the heating that takes the energy) forever, plus no danger of running dry. There are also none of the safety issues associated with the stove top teapot. Get with the program, technology is not all bad.

  3. Hi Jane,
    My peeve is my oven. I used to require the manual, my glasses and a stool to program it. I have now memorized the 6 steps required. All that I needed to do for my old oven was one step-turn to the right to the required temperature.
    Love your column. First thing I read on Saturday.

  4. Within the past two years I have replaced all the major appliances in my small condo kitchen because of their lack of performance or my wishing to update: microwave,oven, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer. Each one plays some kind of tune to indicate the start of or end of their program. Should I dash to remove food ready to eat, switch from washing to drying my clothes, or unload clean dishes first, should they all play at once?. What a conundrum, but they are all pleasant to hear and relieve the boredom of performing my household chores.

  5. Hi Jane

    When it comes to technical challenges, I rate rather low on the scale.

    My new acquired coffeemaker was going to be tested at my upcoming bridge game “get together’.

    I spent a lot of time with the instructions to ensure a result that would impress my very accomplished lady friends.

    The games had ended, prizes given out – and now the big moment. The newly brewed coffee was to be poured in to the thermo be served with goodies to well deserved bridge players. Out came – boiling water!!

    While I had concentrated on setting up the new machine, yes, I had forgotten to add the coffee grinds.

    Thanks to Nescafe – we all laughed and enjoyed the treats.

  6. Both.

    My Smart-TV, Smart Phone, and iPad allow me to instantly keep in touch with family and friends around the world. Share jokes, cartoons and photos. Book hotels, flights and restaurants.

    The blizzard of resulting unsolicited ads and junk mail goes beyond annoyance and robs my time. The wealth of impractical features makes it difficult to do the simple thing I want my device to do.

    The ultimate absurdity? I can control my fridge temperatures with my iPhone via Bluetooth. Who ever changes their fridge temperatures? Much handier are the simple buttons on the fridge door.

  7. Jane:

    When the oven repairman told me there was nothing he could do, I was heartbroken. Turns out that they don’t make replacement parts for old ovens anymore. We eventually found a built-in oven that would fit the space available. My old oven and I understood each other. The new one insisted on doing things its way. Some things turn out overcooked and some undercooked. Try to broil with the door partially open and it will scream at you alarmingly. It clicks and bangs and blows hot air into the kitchen. And this is progress?

  8. I love new technology. It has adapted somethings from the past to be better. For my birthday this year my wife got me the charcoal bbq called the Egg. It’s a bbq that brags it can cook, smoke and bake food. I tested it all this summer. It was amazing.

    PS. My kettle is 21 years old. Still working.

  9. Not the precise topic that you had requested…but very much related:

    Our access to technology is seriously hampered by badly designed websites and/or instructions which are inaccurate or which omit critical steps. Yet our sole access to these essential portals are left to brilliant science/software and IT people who have atrocious communication or business language skills.

    Perhaps a topic for another column…? I have spent hours today and yesterday trying to get an electronics product working [purchased from a multi-billion dollar global corp] and the omissions in the manual can only be described as laughable.

  10. Oh Jane, you certainly struck a chord with your column on Saturday!

    I, too, have frequently “butted heads” with technology in the domestic arena. I now dread having to replace any gadget or appliance, as very often, it usually comes with an online-only manual. This generally requires a degree in computers or coding to comprehend.

    Then there’s the gadget itself, now with so many bells and whistles, it’s a terrifying prospect to even press the “on” button.

    What happened to the good ol’ days when a toaster just toasted and a kettle merely boiled water without a Vegas-style light show? I have great nostalgia for those days.

    And heaven forbid if something should go wrong with a new-fangled gizmo. Unless you are a techno-wizard, you’re hooped. I have two friends who recently bought new cars. These vehicles are so “smart”, neither of them could figure out how to open the fuel tank or turn on the wipers, amongst other basic features. Buying anything new is now a formidable prospect.

    Just thinking about it makes one weak at the knees – better go and put that kettle on!

  11. Yes! Don’t have an electric kettle but can’t find a toaster worthy of the name!
    For breakfast, I have one slice of dense multigrain “toast”. Sounds simple but strangely, modern toasters can’t cope with this.
    In order to have both sides browned, I now have to employ the following method:
    1. place single slice in toaster & set at “6” which is the highest setting;
    2. when that slice pops up it is barely done on one side & not even close on the other side;
    3. so put the slice back into the toaster in the other slot & toast at “3”;
    4. finally brown on both sides, so when cool apply crunchy peanut butter & enjoy with a mug of hot English Breakfast tea.
    What a process!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.