Unitasker Wednesday: Eraser Dust Cleaner

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s selection is one that is certainly cute and likely even works, but the vast majority of our readers simply do not need it. Introducing the Eraser Dust Cleaner:

In case you can’t tell from the image or its name, this product is a tiny broom intended to pick up dust left behind on your desk after erasing pencil marks from paper. Instead of doing what everyone on the planet does — brush the eraser dust away with your hand — this device stores the dust in a chamber that you eventually empty into the trash.

I realize some people still write with pencils on paper. I realize some people erase things. But: 1. Who has so much eraser dust that requires a specialized tool to remove it? and 2. Who is able to write on paper and erase something by hand (a two-handed process — one hand to firmly hold the paper and the other to hold the eraser and doggedly erase pencil marks) but not have the physical ability to gently brush their eraser dust off the surface of the paper? As someone who has arthritis in her hands, I can’t imagine having a use for this product. The act of erasing something is certainly the hardest part of the erasing process; sweeping off eraser dust to clean up a “mess” is a breeze.

The wasted effort to get this tiny broom out of a desk drawer, use it, empty the chamber, and return the Eraser Dust Cleaner to your desk drawer is ridiculous in comparison to wiping the dust away with your hands. As I said earlier, it’s “certainly cute and likely even works” (and it’s not even all that expensive at $8) but it’s solidly still a unitasker.

Thanks to Unclutterer’s Jacki for bringing this item to our unitasker attention.

Unitasker Wednesday: A tribute to SkyMall

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are meant for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

National news sources reported this week that the company that publishes SkyMall magazine has filed for bankruptcy. Xhibit continues to keep the online retail section of the business active, though they have announced plans to sell Skymall.com as part of their bankruptcy process. (The in-flight magazine appears to be a goner.)

It’s a bittersweet announcement for us here at Unclutterer. It will be nice to have the temptation to buy clutter gone from the air travel experience. However, it also means a great source of inspiration for our Unitasker Wednesday column will vanish.

SkyMall has certainly given us some great column fodder over the years: The Bug Vacuum (for those times when your shoe or your vacuum aren’t available), the Automatic Paper Towel Dispenser (a device for $99 that does exactly what the perforations on the paper towel already do), the Retro Cell Phone Handset (it even comes with a cord that can get tangled!), and the Magic Wand Remote Control (you have to master Divination and Potions to be able to use it).

And we wonder where all of our needs for Abominable Snowman Yeti, Zombie Gnome, and Biker Dragon statuary will be met.

Sigh. We should have known it couldn’t last forever.

So, SkyMall, we raise our coffee mugs (obviously kept warm with our USB-powered mug warmers) to you and wish you well in your future iterations. Maybe in your post-bankruptcy state you can keep the helpful organizing items you currently carry and get rid of the clutter? An unclutterer can dream …

Have you seen a ridiculous SkyMall item in the past? In tribute, share your favorite in the comments.

Unitasker Wednesday: Waffle tongs

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

We use our waffle iron at least once a week, usually more, in our home. Ours has die-cast aluminum cooking plates that are coated with a PFOA-free nonstick finish, so we have to be careful when removing the waffles and use a tool that won’t scratch the surface of the cooking plates. We use plastic chopsticks or general-purpose silicone tongs or one of the other dozens of plastic or silicone tools we already have in our kitchen. We just don’t use a metal fork when retrieving our waffles. And we certainly don’t use the Grip-EZ Grab and Lift Silicone Tongs:

The ultra-specialization of kitchen tools is a leading cause of kitchen clutter. People buy gadgets for only one purpose thinking they have to own a tool or they’re not cooking correctly … which is rarely the case. A quality, useful kitchen tool should be able to do multiple things, and do them well. In this case, a nice pair of general purpose, long-handled, silicone-tipped tongs are essential to every kitchen and obliterate the need for waffle tongs or any other type of single-purpose tongs. This week’s unitasker has such short handles that they wouldn’t even be helpful for cooking on the stove or barbecue because you’d burn your hand getting so close to the heat source. And, since they don’t lock in a closed position, they would take up a ridiculous amount of space in your drawer.

If you have a waffle iron and don’t use it often, consider checking out Will it Waffle? by Daniel Shumski. In addition to traditional waffles, you can use your waffle maker for numerous types of food and turn it into a highly functional multitasker.

Thanks to reader Charles for unearthing this unitasker.

Unitasker Wednesday: A GoPro harness for your dog

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

You know those times when you see something and think, “that would be so cool!” And then you buy it and use it (maybe) once and seconds after you use it that one time it becomes clutter in your house? Yeah. So, that is what this week’s unitasker selection is destined to be in 99.99 percent of purchaser’s homes (police and emergency responders being the .01 percent exception). Introducing, the Lesypet Dog Pet Fetch Mounting Selfie Harness Chest Strap Belt Mount Tripod for GoPro Hero 1/2/3/3+/4 SJ4000:

Is “Lesypet Dog Pet Fetch Mounting Selfie Harness Chest Strap Belt Mount Tripod for GoPro Hero 1/2/3/3+/4 SJ4000″ really this device’s name? If it is, I may have to declare it the most cluttered product name ever. Seventeen words! It’s not catchy at all. Can you imagine bringing that up in a conversation? I’d have to look it up on my phone.

Okay, forget the name, how many movies do you actually need of “the world from your dog’s perspective – from running and jumping, to sniffing, digging and more”? (The quoted text is from the product description and that entire description is shorter than the product’s name, FYI. Clearly, I can’t forget the ridiculous name. I thought I could. I can’t. SEVENTEEN WORDS.)

And, let’s say you do need a camera strapped to the back of your dog, can’t you just duct tape a GoPro to your dog’s regular leash harness and save yourself $35?

By the way, the product description also suggests strapping it to your baby. So. Um. There’s that.

Unitasker Wednesday: Mayonnaise Churn

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

One of the mysteries in my life is my hatred for mayonnaise. I like eggs. I like oil. I like vinegar and lemon juice. But mixed together through the magic of emulsion and … gag, yuck, barf.

I understand that some people love mayonnaise, and I’ve tasted enough of it over the years to know that the freshly made stuff is significantly better than the store-bought kind. I’ve also made some three or four times, thinking this time I’m going to like it, but I never do. Anyway, when I’ve made it, I’ve used a whisk and certainly didn’t consider using this very special device: The Mayonnaise Churn:

Let’s be honest, this looks more like a torture device than it does something to make a condiment. It’s also extremely grandiose and complicated for doing something so simple. But, most of all, its name — the Mayonnaise Churn — doesn’t sit well on one’s tongue. Mayonnaise Churn. Mayonnaise Churn. (Blech!)

If you are someone who likes the vile, globby stuff that is mayonnaise, then I suggest making it without this wacky churn. You can use a balloon whisk. You can use a hand blender. You also can use a regular blender or a food processor. And, although all the recipes in the linked videos include dijon mustard, you can use dry mustard powder like Alton Brown does or none at all.

Unitasker Wednesday: Dancing Dog Speaker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Hey, Dog! What’s up? Anything new going on in your life right now? What’s that you say, Dog? You want to dance? Of course you do! Dance, Dog Speaker, dance!

Since taking care of a real dog is a lot of work, combined with the fact that dogs don’t dance, this little guy solves both those problems! The Dog Speaker dances when you attach him to your iPod or Zune (if either of those things still exist). For a whole 10 minutes you can be mildly entertained, and then you can have a piece of furry clutter requiring batteries taking up room unnecessarily in your home!

Unitasker Wednesday: Buttercup Butter Maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Every few weeks I volunteer at my son’s school to assist with math and science lessons that involve cooking projects. I’ve helped the kids rework fractions to double and halve cookie recipes and other similar projects that give them applied understanding of what they’re learning. Right before Thanksgiving, I went in and helped the kids make butter for a unit they were doing on change and, in the specific case of transforming cream into butter, emulsion.

To do the project, we poured heavy cream into a jar or plastic container (my group used a plastic Rubbermaid food storage container about the size of a sandwich) and shook the container for a crazy long time and eventually made butter. Our arms were tired but the butter tasted yummy and the kids learned about emulsion. A few days later one of the other volunteers emailed me to let me know that we had done the lesson ALL WRONG (to clarify, she was being sarcastic, not insane) because we didn’t use a specialty jar exclusively for making the butter — The Buttercup Butter Maker:

I can’t believe we had been so foolish as to think that we could make butter in any ol’ sealed container (even though we did)! At $15 a pop, we could have done it right.

Ugh. Some unitaskers actually irk me because they seem to deliberately take advantage of consumers, and this $15 specialty jar is included in that irksomeness. (Irksomeness? I apparently make up words when irked.)

Note: Want to know how to make butter in a jar? The tutorial “How to Make Whipped Cream and Butter” is nice and even employs the fancy method of adding a cork to the jar to increase agitation and speed up the process (but you don’t have to use the cork, I didn’t with the kids).

Unitasker Wednesday: Tummy Tats

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Internet, we need to have a talk. THE talk. The one about birds and bees and babies and … pregnant belly tattoos called Tummy Tats:

You know what, now that I’ve thought about it for more than a second, maybe we don’t need to have that talk. Forget I said anything. Especially the part about fake tattoos for a woman’s pregnant belly. We don’t ever need to discuss that topic again. For the love of all that is good and decent in this world, let’s agree to never even think about such things again. And I implore you NOT to follow the product link to look at the additional pictures of Tummy Tats on Amazon because you won’t ever be able to unsee those images. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

“Under Construction” Gah!

Unitasker Wednesday: TheSelfie

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This is one of those products where I’m tempted not to write a critique of it because it is so obviously a unitasker that there isn’t really anything to discuss. Introducing TheSelfie:

For starters, this device only works with Apple products (sorry not to tempt you, Droid owners). Second, you still have to hold the iPhone to take a selfie. And, as all iPhone owners are aware, to take a picture with an iPhone all you have to do is touch one of the volume controls. Which, since you’re holding your phone, are literally right beneath your fingers. So … I have no idea how TheSelfie is in anyway useful. In fact, it looks like an additional pain because you have to coordinate everything in such a way as to not get the cord in your picture (like the kids have done in the image above).

Edit: I can’t believe I forgot to mention this, so kudos to reader Darrell who brought it up in the comments, but you can even use the iPhone’s headphones (which ship with every iPhone) in exactly the same way as TheSelfie. To learn how, check out Lifehacker’s article “Use your iPhone’s headset to take pictures from afar.” Another reminder to always read the manual.

Unitasker Wednesday: Snow cone and shave ice machines

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

We all have snippets of good memories from our youth that occasionally bubble up and bring smiles to our faces. While watching some of the World Series the other night, I had a flash of memories from being a kid and getting ready for bed while listening to Kansas City Royals games on the AM radio. The pops and and crinkles of the AM broadcast mixed with the sound of the ball making contact with the bat were front and center in my mind and I’m pretty sure I smiled the entire next day. I’ve since been listening to the games on the radio instead of watching them on tv because it makes me so incredibly happy.

My husband has a similar intensely joyful memory about eating snow cones at a town festival. As a result, whenever we find ourselves at a summer festival, we seek out snow cones (also sno cones, shaved ice, and shave ice). We gobble them up and show each other our colorful tongues and reminisce about the carefree days of childhood. What we don’t do, however, is buy an insanely large snow cone machine for our house, like the Old Fashioned Snow Cone Maker or the Electric Shaved Ice Machine:

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good Hawaiian shave ice (especially the root beer float ones with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom of the cup and root beer float syrup over the ice). But, like any treat, it’s not something you want every day. Once, maybe twice a year at a festival does the job and feeds the nostalgic happy memory.

These two unitaskers take up a huge amount of space and, if you live in a four-season part of the world, you’re likely not interested in using them for 3/4 of the year. They also don’t make anything other than snow cones. And, since in a pinch you can always put some ice in a zip-top bag and whack at it with a meat tenderizer hammer for a few minutes, you don’t really need a special machine to make a snow cone at home if you have the rare craving.

Are these fun? Sure. Are they unitaskers? You betcha. We’ll stick to getting our treats of nostalgia at summer festivals.

And, obviously, go Royals!

Unitasker Wednesday: Infant Whirlpool Bubbling Spa

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Regular readers of the site know that I’m a mom with a five-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. If I were to compare myself to most moms in the US, I’d describe myself as fairly typical when it comes to buying baby supplies and such. I never went over the top with buying gadgets, but certainly spent some money on tools that made being a parent to a baby more convenient (e.g. we own a fancy diaper pail but not a self-rocking bassinet).

As a typical parent, I was surprised that this week’s unitasker selection made me roll my eyes. Most ridiculous baby things I can find a reason why someone might need them for their kid. Heck, even the self-rocking bassinet I mentioned previously I could understand buying if it was the only way to get my kid to sleep through the night. No judgments from me on that choice.

However, I do not understand why a baby could ever need his own whirlpool bubbling spa.

Not only is it an extravagance that would likely be completely lost on an infant (running water into a tub or sink would probably entertain the kid just as much), but it’s not particularly sanitary. Whirlpools have an incredibly high risk for bacteria growth, and I can’t imagine voluntarily subjecting a child to such an unnecessary risk.

Plus, you have to store this thing and power it (plug it in? put batteries in it?) somehow, which is something you don’t have to do with your kitchen sink or bathtub. It seems to me that in every scenario this device is far more hassle than it’s worth. It seems like a product a manufacturer created without any parent wanting such an item.

There is also a part of me that is convinced this is a foot spa that someone slapped a baby sticker on its side. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a marketing person pitched the idea to increase sales: “New parents will buy anything! Like, lets call our foot spa a baby whirlpool! A baby will totally fit in there.”

Not a unitasker: The waffle maker

Back in July, the editor of Waffleizer.com messaged me and asked if I wanted an advanced copy of his new book. I responded with an enthusiastic “yes!” And then, in August, Will it Waffle? arrived.

Ever since, I’ve been trying out different recipes from Daniel Shumski’s book, and am now a devoted fan. My family loves the meals I’ve made from it, too, which says a great deal because they’re a bunch of picky eaters. The Zucchini-Parmesean Fritters are their favorite. (Its paperback list price is $14.95, but Amazon has it for less than $12 right now and the Kindle edition is less than $10.)

The premise of the cookbook is that when used only for waffles, your waffle maker is a unitasker, and people should typically avoid unitaskers. But, since a waffle maker is the only way to make fresh waffles at home, Shumski sought out ways to turn it into a multi-tasking appliance. His was a noble quest, and it’s refreshing that he succeeded. The cookbook contains more than 50 recipes to create on a waffle iron.

As you might expect, there are a handful of sandwich recipes in the book. A waffle maker and a panini press are quite similar, so this section of recipes is to be expected. (Not to say they’re boring recipes, because they are quite delicious. Family favorites are the ham and cheese melt with maple butter and the Cuban sandwich.)

What’s most impressive to me about the book are the recipes that you wouldn’t expect — for example, chicken fingers, wontons, crispy kale, tamale pie, pizza, soft cell crab, and steak. And, unlike in other preparations, most of these recipes don’t require consistent monitoring. You put the item on the waffle iron, set the timer, and simply wait until the item is done cooking. You’re free to make sauces or side dishes or set the table in the meantime.

Based on your model of waffle iron, cleanup afterward is also extremely convenient if your waffle iron has removable plates that can go in the dishwasher or a non-stick coating you can wipe down with a damp cloth and be done with it. I like easy, and all of the recipes I’ve tried and their cleanup were a breeze.

One of my favorite sections of the cookbook is about creating your own recipes for the waffle maker and, specifically, the listing of what won’t waffle. Foods requiring a lot of moisture, like rice, won’t work in a waffle maker and neither will things that have a lot of butter, like shortbread cookies. Then, obviously, foods like soup are out of the question. But, I was surprised by how much is able to be waffled and am glad Shumski provides this encouragement for creativity.

If you have a waffle maker and you’re interested in transforming it from a unitasker into a multi-tasker, check out Shumski’s book Will it Waffle? Then, start thinking about the other small appliances in your home and how you can put them to use in multiple ways.