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Over the last fifty years housework has been made considerably easier by the invention of an increasing number of labour-saving devices and appliances, mostly electrical, which have drastically cut down the amount of time and effort previously needed to do the everyday household chores. For many years now there have been vacuum cleaners, electric irons, washing machines and floor-polishers; now we have electric potato-peelers and even electric carving knives. We can buy cookers that will switch themselves on and produce a meal that is ready to eat the minute we-get back home. If we have one of those electric pop-up toasters, we can make toast at the breakfast table itself. Mashed potatoes can be quickly and effortlessly made with a mixer, which usually has a variety of attachments that enable you to make all sorts of other more exotic things like fresh orange juice or real mayonnaise. And a tumble-drier can save you from the frustration of hanging out the washing only to have to bring it in again ten minutes later when menacing storm-clouds loom over.
Probably the most important piece of electrical equipment to become widely used in the last twenty years is the dishwasher. Washing up by hand is not only a time-consuming task (it can take longer than eating the meal itself), but also an extremely boring one, particularly when you are on your own, and it also ruins your hands. Dishwashers come in a range of different sizes and models to suit your purse, the size of your family, and the layout of the kitchen. They can be stood on the floor or on a worktop, or they can be mounted on a wall. And their capacity ranges from six to twelve place-settings. If you buy one, it is worth having it plumbed into the main water supply to save you having to connect robber pipes to your taps each time you use it. All you have to do is load the dirty dishes, glasses and cutlery into the racks inside the machine, pour in some special detergent powder, close the door and switch it on; it does the rest by itself while you get on and do more interesting things. Of course, most dishwashers can't accommodate large saucepans and frying pans, and you do have to scrape all scraps of solid food from the dishes before you put them in to avoid blocking the filters, but the machine will wash almost everything else and get rid of even the most stubborn egg and lipstick stains. When the washing cycle is over, the machine dries the plates and glasses with its own heat, and indeed they can be left inside until they are needed for the next meal.
If you buy a medium-sized dishwasher, you probably won't need to wash up more than once a day. The drawback of this, ofcourse, is that you have to have enough dishes, cutlery, etc. to last three or four meals. So it can happen that people who buy a dishwasher have to buy new china and glasses, either because they haven't got enough or because the ones they've got don't fit the machine. This extra expense may not only be necessary, but also desirable, for one has to remember that dishwashers can be quite noisy. This means that many people prefer only to use their machine once a day, preferably last thing at night, when you can just shut the kitchen door on it and go to bed.
(From "Meanings into Words" by Adrian Doff, Christopher Jones and Keith Mitchell)
I. Read the text "Dishwashers" and express your agreement or disagreement with the following claims about dishwashers.
1. They cannot be stood on the floor.
2. You can hang them on the wall.
3. You cannot use them for washing cutlery.
4. You do not need any detergent powder for washing up.
5. There is a special place in any dishwasher for large saucepans and frying pans.
6. They get rid of most stubborn stains and of scraps of solid food.
7. Hot air flowing through dishes dries them.
8. Dishwashers can be quite noisy.
II. Work in pairs. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a dishwasher. One of you prefers to have it while the other is not fond of electrical appliances in general.
III. Work in pairs. Explain to each other in you own words the advantages and disadvantages of:
1. vacuum cleaners;
2. automatic cookers;
3. electric toasters;
IV. Work in groups. Give your opinion on the use of labour saving devices. If you are in favour of this sort of appliances, use:
To make housework considerably easier; to cut down the amount of time and effort; to save one a lot of bother; labour and time consuming task; to do the everyday household chores; to switch themselves on/off; to save smb. from doing smth; extremely boring; to ruin one's hands; can be stood on the floor or on a worktop; can be mounted on a wall; to load the dirty dishes, etc. into; the racks inside the machine; pour in some detergent powder; to do the rest by itself; to dry the plates, etc.; the washing cycle; to be worth buying;
If you are not in favour of them, use:
To suit one's purse; the layout of one's kitchen; can't accommodate large saucepans and frying pans; to have to scrape all scraps of solid food from the dishes; to block the filters; to have enough dishes, cutlery, etc. to fit the machine; extra expense, noisy; get out of order; to be not worth buying; to repair; to take away much useful and valuable physical activity; to need exercise.
So great is our passion for doing things ourselves, that we are becoming increasingly less dependent on specialized labour. No one can plead ignorance of a subject any longer, for there are countless do-it-yourself publications. Armed with the right tools and materials, newly-weds gaily embark on the task of decorating their own homes. Men of all ages spend hours of their leisure time installing their own fireplaces, laying out their own gardens; building garages and making furniture. Some really keen enthusiasts go so far as to build their own record players and radio transmitters. Shops cater for the do-it-yourself craze not only by running special advisory services for novices, but by offering consumers bits and pieces which they can assemble at home.
Wives tend to believe that their husbands are infinitely resourceful and versatile. Even husbands who can hardly drive a nail in straight are supposed to be born electricians, carpenters, plumbers and mechanics. When lights fuse, furniture gets rickety, pipes get clogged, or vacuum cleaners fail to operate, wives automatically assume that their husbands will somehow put things right. The worst thing about the do-it-yourself game is that sometimes husbands live under the delusion that they can do anything even when they have been repeatedly proved wrong. It is a question of pride as much as anything else.
(Extract from "Developing Skills" by L. G.Alexander)
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