2024: My new book and the Year of the Potato Peeler
December 18, 2023

2024: My new book and the Year of the Potato Peeler

So here we are in the month of Christmas and Hanukkah, with the new year coming soon. In the Chinese calendar, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. And of course, here in America, we know it as the Year of the Potato Peeler. Or we will if the congress acts on my petition, which has been signed by 2,351,000 of my fellow citizens at great cost to the median nerve in my right wrist.

The potato peeler is one of the most important inventions in history, but many people are shamelessly, flamboyantly ignorant of that truth. Before peelers, potatoes had to be peeled with knives, resulting in 2,855 severed fingers in the average year. Of those pitiable victims, on average 102 died of sepsis of the stump, the stump being that portion of the finger remaining on the hand. An additional 56 died from an accidental stabbing of themselves, and from time to time, a clumsy person peeling potatoes with a knife tragically killed a beloved horse.

This carnage caused people to peel potatoes with a spoon, a laborious process that led to many late dinners, numerous restaurant chefs being sent to asylums, and an ironic spike in marital disputes involving knives. Hammers proved useful for mashing the potatoes but were worse than spoons when it came to peeling. With the proper training and finesse, a two-handle lumberman’s saw is effective at skinning potatoes; however, it requires two users, and most who are skilled with a lumberman’s saw are able to obtain high-paying jobs in the logging industry and have little or no interest in moonlighting as a culinary assistant.

Considering that potato peelers are also useful for peeling carrots and selected other vegetables, for snake farmers who need to help their serpents slough off skin in the molting season, and for an infinite number of other tasks, one could make a credible argument that, without this ingenious tool, civilization would collapse.

If the Chinese can name years after twelve animals in their lunar calendar, we can use twelve of the most underappreciated inventions to name our years. The Year of the Ring-Pull Can Opener makes more sense than The Year of the Rat. Rats spread numerous diseases, eat thousands of tons of grain grown for human consumption, have no value as sandwich meat (except in the case of those cats that can manipulate bread and squeeze bottles of mustard), and have never given us a cute character in movies and books, as have—for instance—mice. As soon as I get a cortisone shot in my right wrist and find a comfortable brace for it, I am going to get another million fellow citizens to sign my petition.

Oh, I almost forgot: My novel, The Bad Weather Friend, which I had great fun writing and which I think is among my best works, will be published in hardcover, audio, and eBook on February 1 by Thomas & Mercer. Thanks to a special arrangement, it will be available free in eBook format for Amazon Prime members during the entire month of January. How’s that for a deal?

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