Special Sub-Topic: Things You Can Live Without
|This invention looks like a thick plastic glass with a scoop of ice cream in the top. What is it?|
a motorised ice cream cone. Apparently, there are those who are too lazy to lick their own ice cream or perhaps just too lazy to turn the ice cream cone!
The U.S. patent was awarded in 1999, to a Richard B. Hartman.
|Something like giant scissors, about a meter (or a yard) long, but with opposed hollow hemispheres instead of blades: what is it?|
a snowball scoop. My first impression was that the idea was to keep your hands/gloves from getting cold or wet while making snowballs. But how are you going to throw them when you've made them, without the same thing happening?
Sold as a 'snowball maker' by Flexible Flyer and Sno-Baller, this invention actually seems to be quite successful. The biggest selling points are the ability to create a lot of snowballs fast, and that the snowballs are of the right consistency.
|What is a hand-held tube from which an edible yellow paste is extruded as you twist the base?|
a butterstick. Hmmm. Will this still work in winter, or should the inventor perhaps add a heating element to make sure the butter is soft enough to smear onto a slice of bread?
The product is the same size and shape as a large glue-stick, and was released around 2000. A much larger butter dispenser is also available, from a different producer, which holds a brick of butter and dispenses thin sheets, but this is designed for use in a kitchen.
|A pair of glasses with a funnel mounted in the centre of each of the clear, plain lenses: what is it?|
eyedrop glasses. Darn. Missed again! I get so tired of missing when I'm trying to put drops in my eyes. The medicine goes all over my face, down my neck, inside my shirt... Hey! I've got an idea! Millions will thank me!
No, they won't. (They won't want to make a spectacle of themselves!)
This is not the only approach to the problem, just the ugliest. "Dr. Merrill's" is offering spectacles with dispensing holes drilled in each lens, into which the nozzle of an eyedropper can be inserted, while another inventor has patented an adjustable version.
|This invention is a red rubberised handgrip, with finger indentations, designed to fit around something slender. A lengthwise slit allows it to easily be fitted onto the object for which it is designed. What is it?|
a custom wineglass grip. There's a certain elegance to clutching a wineglass in your fist. (Really?) And, later in the evening, it's easier to hold on to, as your hand muscles become more relaxed.
You are getting sleepy... your eyelids are heavy... heavier... you just can't keep them open... What a good thing the handgrip is rubberized - you nearly dropped your wine there! No, I think I can manage to live without one, thank you.
Marketed as the 'Wine Grip', they came in different colours, and in one place I found a set of four on offer for $12 - accompanied by a notice that the product has been discontinued. What a surprise.
|A penguin figurine with a long beak angled upwards (which can pivot in the vertical plane) and a dial or round knob near the base: what is it?|
a combination teabag dipper and timer. OK, so I place my cup in front of the penguin, and I dangle a teabag from the penguin's beak, and set the timer to how long I want the teabag to steep; the penguin will raise its beak and lift the teabag out at the right time. So now, in my extremely busy lifestyle, I can stop worrying about remembering to remove the teabag after 134 seconds, and go back to doing whatever I was doing. Now where was I...?
What's that dear? My tea's gone cold? Oh no!
Officially labeled the "Penguin Teaboy", it actually seems to be selling to a small but certifiable market segment. The timer can be set from one to twenty minutes, by which time only a penguin would want the tea.
|What is a hand-held electric device with a small soft conical nozzle at one end and vents on the case?|
an electric ear drier. It's a pity that this is an electric ear drier; I can really see the potential of a belly button fluff remover! I believe the instructions say that you must first dry your ears with a towel before using the electric ear drier...
Some factual information:
It's a fact that the manufacturer claims that the ear drier was designed and tested by a medical specialist, and that they also claim that regular use of the ear drier is medically recommended for the prevention of all manner of nasty, unpleasant ear conditions. The product tagline is "Have you dried your ears today?" I just wonder how many ENT specialists also have a degree in electrical engineering?
|A mug with a hole about 15mm in diameter, at or near the bottom, comes with a plastic plug to fit the hole. What is it?|
a personally secure mug which prevents anyone else using it. I guess the idea is to make the mug useless without the plastic plug which goes in the hole. Why? Either because you don't want anyone else drinking from your mug, because you've got a thing about other peoples' germs, or you don't want anyone to steal your mug.
So, what happens when you lose the unique plastic plug? Okay, I guess you could just plug a generic cork into the hole (as could anyone else, if they REALLY wanted to use your funny mug that badly).
Something similar has been available in Australia, being marketed there as a "Plug Mug", but being Australians, the focus there seems to be on the practical jokes you can play on your mates by pulling the plug on their coffee when they're not looking!
|This is a plastic board, about 60cm x 18cm (24in x 7in), with slots on one side near the outer ends which allow it to grip onto the steering wheel of a car. What is it?|
a steering wheel tray for your takeaway. It's not such a terrible idea (assuming you're not going to try to drive like that), but where do you keep it when you're not using it? It won't fit in the cubby or in the door pocket. In one of the seat-back pockets, perhaps? - But what will it do to your upholstery if you mess ketchup on it?
Personally, I'll just keep on using my hands, and park a drink in the cupholder which all modern cars have somewhere.
|A pair of scissors with a bulky tubular attachment on one of the handles: what is it?|
laser scissors; the laser helps you to cut straight. Now, just cut straight along here - No! Oops. Never mind, let's try again. Here's the edge, and along we go. Darn. How can I cut a straight line when my hand keeps slipping or shaking? I know! I'll put a mini laser on the scissors, and then just cut along the laser line. It's so simple!
Now, why is that laser line moving from side to side as I cut?
I have seen at least one positive customer review on Amazon.com for this product, but that was more about the good service they received from the supplier. To use the laser scissors successfully, the customer first had to draw a line, and then use the laser to follow it...! Nonetheless, there are a couple of brands on the market, and you might be able to get a pair for between $5 to $10.
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