Last night, after I left the hospital, I went to Wal-Mart to look for a new rice cooker to replace the one that died, prematurely, on Christmas. Since the deceased device had been the expensive multi-tasking sort, I figured I'd look for something basic this time. After all, my old stand-by purchased in an Asian market in the Bay Area had lasted over a decade. Anyway, as I browsed the kitchen goods, I found myself strangely comforted by the presence of so many bargain items. You see, I went to Target during Hannukah to look for a classic electric frying pan only to find that they had been supplanted by fancy hybrid Geräte that supposedly did dozens of things well, but seemed to have forgotten the core mission of such implements. And then, as I stood there befuddled, I looked about me and spotted rice cookers that made our expensive machine at home seem out-of-date. Some touted their use of fuzzy logic, even. Thus, when I was at Wal-Mart last night, instead of being overwhelmed by the self-loathing that usually accompanies our infrequent trips there, I felt peaceful and secure because the high-tech goods were in short supply. I found a $20 Black and Decker rice cooker and a $20 replacement for our Black and Decker four-slot toaster, in which I'd broken one side by dropping a knife into it. I even saw a close approximation of the Black and Decker mini-chopper that I've been using for over fifteen years without a hitch and which I feared I could never replace. Knowing that I can buy it when the time comes has given me real peace of mind. I'm cooking the first pot of rice right now. We'll see how our new cooker manages to deal with its lack of fuzzy logic.