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April 21, 2002
Vol. II, No. 14

"The Life Expectancy of Toasters"
Ah, toast! Most weekdays I run off to the office with my thermos of coffee and pretty much grab whatever I can to eat as the day goes by. On Saturdays, however, I have time to make a nice breakfast. The usual is a couple of eggs, over-easy, with two slices of whole-grain toast. I eat one slice with the eggs and the other, saved for last, receives a generous shmeer of cream cheese and preserves. I love Saturdays.

This past weekend, over my eggs and toast, I got to wondering: "Why, given that they perform such an essential service, do we pick on toasters?" I decided the question deserved a little research and headed for the web. What I found there was a most interesting website, , home of The Toaster Museum Foundation. Turns out that toast may have been enjoyed by the Egyptians but most definitely was by the Romans and those who followed. In the early 1900s the electric toaster was invented in the US and in 1926 the first pop-up toaster for the home was introduced. There's alot more at and I encourage you to make your own pilgrimage. I thoroughly enjoyed my research and came away with a new-found respect for the toaster. It's a USA original and its story is a tribute to the American spirit of ingenuity and innovation.

With this in mind, my original question seemed all the more pertinent: "Why pick on such a venerable icon?" When we, as organists, make a disparaging comparison to a toaster, we're not only being unpatriotic, we're committing an injustice toward toasters. (I'd hate for the toaster website people to find out about this.) My theory is that we are actually addressing the disposability of appliances in our modern age. Appliance manufacturers would have us buy a new product before our current one has outlived its usefulness. We hold up the toaster as a symbol of our victimization at the hands of consumerism.

In reality, I think we have it backwards. Toasters are mechanical, utilize electricity, and with proper maintenance can remain in service beyond our lifetimes. A more appropriate symbol I believe would be an appliance containing solid state electronics. These days if your VCR, radio, TV, etc. breaks, it costs almost as much to repair it as to buy it new. The expectation is that you will throw it out when it breaks. Better yet, throw it out before it breaks and buy a new and improved one. Hey, here's a thought: let's make the new focus of anti-consumerism sentiment the television (gasp!).

Sure, toasters have slipped on the "Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" charts (Was it George Carlin who asked, "What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?") but that's no reason to take them for granted. Why do we pick on them? I think it's sort of like teasing a younger brother or sister. You know it's wrong but you just can't help yourself. The dark side of human nature can't resist a quick and easy boost to the old self-esteem. I say right here, right now, let's stop the madness and restore the prestige to the toaster that it truly deserves. If you need to disparage something, call it a TV but let my toaster be!

If you're thinking I'm a few slices short of a loaf, click here:
Then click here to tell me what's on your mind:

Composition Free Exchange
I posted a new composition by one of our resident composers, Richard deCosta. He's generously offered a sample from one of his latest projects, a collection of hymn preludes, still in progress. Click below for his arrangement of "Abide with Me":

Featured Links
I added a ton of links this week: Ton Koopman, Downloadable Transcriptions of Works by J. S. Bach, Håkan Wikman (organist), South African Organs, het ORGEL,, Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society, European Guild of Organists, Classical Music Almanac, Estonian Organ Society. Happy hunting!

Have a great week and enjoy some toast!

Dan Long

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