Posted by: deadmousediaries | May 22, 2009

Five Things I Wish I Had Invented — from Mitchell Kyd

We’re getting ready for a birthday party for a couple of dead guys in my community. To be fair, they are pretty famous dead guys – founding fathers, so to speak – but they’re dead just the same. That puts a lot of pressure on the rest of us to make this event special since they won’t be around to fill in with those emotionally charged guest of honor speeches or to take up time opening gifts, etc. Consequently, there’s a lot of other hoopla being planned to fill in all the gaps.

   Ironically, almost everyone knows one of our guys and both of them are named Ben. One is Benjamin Chambers for whom our town is named. The other guy is Ben Franklin, our county namesake. No one can dispute that both of these guys did some pretty amazing stuff in some pretty trying times during the eighteenth century. They were contemporaries and even met each other once but maybe the biggest difference in why we all know one of them better than the other is that Franklin was his own best front man.

   If you don’t want to be forgotten by the time you’re dead and rotten, write something worth reading or do something worth the writing,” was Franklin’s advice that clearly he took to heart. We learned as school kids that he was the guy with the key and a kite who precipitated the titanium-club-heads-and-steel-cleats-on-the-golf-course incidents that reenact his discovery of electricity somewhere every year. That was clearly something something worth the doing. He also wrote one of my favorite quotable lines of all time that has passed the two-century test: Beer is proof that God loves us.  That is definitely something worth reading so he accomplished both objectives.

   Now that I’ve passed my own double-nickel birthday, I’m starting to wonder what I’m going to do or write about that might give me fifteen minutes of fame in a future century. All the really good stuff has already been said or done and in most cases, by someone with a bigger ad budget. I may not have the bucks to make it big but I do have some great PR skills of my own so my new strategy is to rewrite history. I plan to lay claim to a couple of things that aren’t immediately connected to a famous name. It’s a short but venerable list of five things I wish I had invented.

1.Daylight Savings Time. Think about it. Not since the days of Julius Caesar has anyone found any new tricks to creating time. The Romans figured out how to do it on the Julian Calendar by stealing days from the calendar page of another member of the old boy network and adding it to their own. (I’m sure you’ve wondered at least once why October is our tenth month, not the eighth as octo would lead you believe. The same mystery applies in December where the Latin root for ten somehow got displaced and pushed out into the number twelve slot.)

Even though it’s been around in the U.S. since 1918, do you know who came up with the concept of “saving time” through our crazy rituals of spring forward/fall back? Maybe you don’t. So from this day forward, just tell your friends you think it was Mitchell Kyd. (BTW, it was Ben Franklin but if you didn’t know, you’ve just proved my point:  the assoicated fame must still be up for grabs.)

2.Porta-Potties. It’s not a classy innovation of course but what screams Fun Stuff Happening Here Soon! more than a truckload of porta-potties being delivered to an open field? Even if the message is: Sorry you missed us. Come again next year!, it’s still a great indication that you should mark that site on your GPS. Who came up with that idea of the mobile outhouse– friend to traveler and contractor alike? Let’s pretend it was Mitchell Kyd.

3.Carbon Credits. Let’s face it, nothing since the pet rock has even come close to the concept of making money out of a naturally occurring element in nature that requires no change of form, interference or special treatment from the owner. Who first stumbled on to the concept that you can buy and sell ownership off the exhaust fumes from random locations of green plants? Let’s write it down as Mitchell Kyd.

4. Acronyms. Now where would we be without these handy little monikers? Our doctors and our brokers would be forced to speak to us in English, or at least a language resembling it, and we might recognize enough to realize the plight we’re in. Not only do acronyms mask a lot of stuff we really ought to know, they also make it possible to speed-talk through the boring parts. And without acronyms, industries could never get their work done. I’m convinced that if telecom companies, for example, had to use real words when communicating their intentions, they would have no time left to deploy the technologies the words describe.

   So what is the origin of the acronym? Maybe when Trog the Neanderthal uttered UGH! for the very first time he was really using an acronym to tell his best bud about Unusual Geo-thermal Hyperactivity. But I doubt it. So if we don’t know who invented acronyms, why can’t that be me?

5. Drive-Thrus. The hype is rampant about the most important technological advances of the past 50 years but the humble little drive-thru is never mentioned. Is there any single thing that has increased the speed with which we live our lives or given us more stealth than the concept of the drive-thru? I don’t think so.

   In a matter of seconds we can zero-out our nest eggs or eat ourselves silly – all with lightning speed and anonymity. I understand that in Sweden, there are drive-thrus designed for snowmobiles and that in some parts of our country there are already drive-thru mortuaries. Wow. Nothing says I loved you and miss you like peering through the plate glass at a departed friend with a Big Gulp in your hand a plate of nachos in your lap. On second thought, maybe I should take this one off my list.

‘Til Wednesday – Mitchell Kyd

Copyright  2009.  Mitchell Kyd.  All rights reserved.





  1. This was informative!! I will never look at a truck load of Porta-Potties the same. You know, I want to take credit for the chip clip!!

    I look forward to the next post!

  2. I’m with your friend, Beth, about the Porta-potties – Wonderful!!

    I didn’t realize Ben F. was responsible for the line “Beer if proof that God loves us.” I test that one all the time.

    Keep ’em comin’!

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