There are awards galore out there, for every accomplishment under the sun. The most prestigious has got to be the Nobel Prize, whether for the sciences, the arts, or, best of all, promoting peace in our world.
But what about an award for the folks who make seemingly minor contributions that make a major difference in our day-to-day quality of life? These are things that fly under the radar. You might not even think of them because they’ve become mundane. If they were taken away one day, however, we’d probably all lose our sanity. I propose the “Minor Nobel Prize” awards to honor such genius.
Here’s my list of innovations that deserve more credit and thus a Minor Nobel Prize:
- Velcro – Are you kidding me? How has this invention not been recognized by the Nobel committee? I don’t want to even think about where we’d be without Velcro. Kids’ garments, old peoples’ shoes, cheap wallets, high-tech gadget attachments, etc., etc. And, yeah, I love the sound.
- Auto rear camera – How many parking lot collisions have been averted by the ability to see in back of you??? I want one of these for my body, too. (And how about the one that let’s you see behind a towed trailer? What kind of black magic is that?)
- Vacuum in the van – Speaking of vehicles, how about the guy–“guy” in the generic sense; it was probably a Mom who came up with this–who thought of putting a vacuum cleaner in a minivan? Absolutely brilliant! Those things probably suck up ten pounds of Cheerios a month, not to mention Legos and goldfish crackers. And the gas savings for the lightened vehicle make this an environmental boon.
- Sharpies – This might be the greatest invention known to man. For its beneficial purposes, it certainly beats the dickens out of Nobel’s dynamite. Maybe we should be giving out Sharpie prizes.
- Duct tape – Don’t even get me started.
- Needle threader – The quickest way I know to induce a nervous breakdown is attempting to thread a needle. The thread inevitably frays, giving you about sixteen microscopic baby threads all vying to get through the eye at the same time. Ain’t happening. The needle threader is an incredibly ingenious yet underappreciated invention.
- Fingernail clipper – As much as I like to bite my fingernails–or have to in certain tense situations like driving or going to a mall–the clipper is the way to go to avoid injury. The best devices also collect the clippings so they don’t fly all over the room. Instead, you can mix them in with your shredded coconut flakes. No one will ever know the difference.
- Chapstick – This is an essential quasi-medical advance on par with eyeglasses and nose hair trimmers. Little known Chapstick fact: Many children are alive today because cracked, bleeding lips were made kissable by Chapstick.
The final nominee for a Minor Nobel Prize is a classic example of an innovation that has saved money, sanity, and relationships. If it had never come about, the past month would have been a living nightmare for most people celebrating Christmas.
- Lines on the back of wrapping paper – Before the guide lines on the back of wrapping paper were introduced, I spent half my December trying to divine straight paths through random arrangements of Santas, stars, and candy canes. It was all in vain. I invariably created odd origami-like shapes more often than usable paper.
That’s my list for now. There are doubtless many more, but I won’t know what they are until they’re taken away.
May that never happen.