But some stuff is definitely getting worse.
Thing is, they are things that should be getting better.
I've already written about the appalling deterioration of AOL Mail with each successive version, which has caused that trailblazing service to plummet into almost complete uselessness.
But what has come closest of all to destroying my faith in the entire Universe is . . . Mini-Moo's.
But even before I tell you how this product has sent me into a descending spiral of Weltschmerz, we must deal with its name, which, as you can see, is a singular possessive: "Mini-Moo's." It designates something that belongs to Mini-Moo -- or is it "a" Mini-Moo? This in itself does not make it a bad name for a product. (Think "McDonald's.") But it leaves us with the issue of how to comfortably refer to the singular and plural of this product. I've researched this. Some people would form the plural "Mini-Moo'ses," some would say "Mini-Moos," and some would treat the word as an invariant, like "sheep," with the plural the same as the singular. I vote for that one. But it would be better if the manufacturer had just called the product "Mini-Moo." But between you and me, "Mini Moo's" will be treated as both singular and plural. If, heaven forbid, I have to use it as a possessive, I will form it: "Mini-Moos'."
And there's another problem for the careful writer: Sometimes it has a hyphen, sometimes it doesn't -- see the photos below. And its manufacturer, Land O Lakes? Sometimes it appears as "Land O' Lakes," with the apostrophe indicating that it's a contraction of "of," and sometimes without. Sheesh.
Mini-Moo's are little containers of half-and-half for use in coffee and other drinks. They are little corrugated plastic cups covered with foil that is sealed around the rim of the cup. As noted, they are made by the good people at Land O Lakes, who put that rather fetching Native American princess on all of their products. Don't ask me why they don't have to be refrigerated. (I know why, just don't ask me.) You have seen them in 7-11's and other places where you can grab a quick cup of coffee (my own workplace favors the Mini-Moo's):
Now I know most of you have used one of these products or something like it. When the item is produced, the manufacturer leaves the adhesive off a fair portion of the foil that covers that little tab. You tease at it, the foil on the end of the tab lifts a little, you seize the newly-liberated foil tab and pull toward the cup. The foil top easily peels off and you can then pour that fine concoction into your drink. The image on a box of these items portrays -- rather more dramatically than it happens in reality -- a successful peel-back and pour:
I have been using Mini-Moo's for years. I cannot number the consecutive successful peel-and-pours I have executed.
Until the last several months.
One day I was preparing my morning coffee at 7-11. Picked up a Mini-Moo's. As I had done thousands of times, I held the cup between the thumb and index finger of my left hand. With the thumb on my right hand, I scraped it lightly against the tip of that little tab, which usually lifts the unattached foil away from the plastic, and, with the thumb still moving, I prepared to bring the index finger of my right hand forward to grasp the little loose foil tab to complete the peelback.
Except that this time, the foil did not separate from the plastic. It had been glued down all the way down to the tip of the tab.
I tried it one more time. Nothing. Tried to stick a fingernail in to pop that little foil tab off the plastic. No.
Threw that one away. Undoubtedly an outlier. Possibly rare. Maybe worth some money, like a misstamped coin. Began to be sorry I threw it away.
Picked up another one. Stunned to discover it suffered from the same defect.
After one or two more, I was able to select one that was more conventionally glued, and was only happy that my coffee had not unacceptably cooled in the meantime.
Since then, I have encountered many many Mini-Moo's that are almost impossible to open because the peel-back foil tab is glued all the way down to the end of that little sticking-out tongue.
One might think this was a conscious decision on the part of the Land O Lakes people. Perhaps . . . I don't know, product security? Except that not all Mini-Moo's suffer from this inability to actually get at the product. If you grub around in the bowl of cuplets long enough you can find one that's sealed like they all used to be.
No, this is a factory issue. Either Land O Lakes has some new machinery that slathers on too much fastening stickum, or the quality assurance function at LOL (!) has suffered some unfortunate turnover.
It may seem like a small thing, those little gold-foil cups of half-and-half serially resisting my efforts to get at their creamy nectar.
But what I want to know is: If, in this marvelous world of ours where we witness the blessings of progress day after day and year after year, does the decline in the quality of Mini-Moo's after being so good for so long represent some kind of cosmic signal that we have gone as far as we can go? That it's all downhill from here?
Or . . . that I'm just wrong about the fundamental nature of reality?
And that there is, in fact, no chance at all that we can repeal Obamacare?