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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Take On the 20 Most Worthless Pieces of Junk

Linked from Consumerist, I was reading this list of the 20 Most Worthess Pieces of Junk. Since I've spent the last couple years trying to declutter and really evaluate the stuff I have (and get rid of what I don't need), I thought I'd give my own special insight on each of these junky items. (or non-junky, perhaps)

#20 - Rice Cookers
I disagree, I love my rice cooker. This is one of the small kitchen appliances that I really like to have. If you read the commentary, there is an argument that rice is easy to make in a pot. This is true. However, in a rice cooker, it is effortless. I put the rice in, put the water in, hit a button and then go off and make dinner and totally forget about the rice. No stirring, no watching to see if it is burning or boiling over, nothing. It clicks when it's ready and keeps the rice warm. It's always the right consistency, and my effort can be better spent worrying about chopping veggies or stir frying awesome things. Or even doing laundry or whatever.

#19 - Shoe Inserts
Ok, I'm a runner. I have a weird take on this. In my opinion, I must have my orthotics. I have a weirdly aligned big toe joint that causes me a lot of pain, and I have custom orthotics made by a podiatrist. I love them, and I think they're great. As for "superfeet" and the inserts mentioned in the article? Not so much. I think they're a waste of money. Runners out there, go get the custom orthotics, you won't be sorry.

#18 - Polaroid Cameras
Yeah, in this day and age, useless. In 1985? Pretty cool.

#17 - The Iron
Ask my mom, ask my husband, ask my ex-husband. I don't iron except in a state of extreme duress. However, I can't say that I think irons are worthless. In a pinch, with a wrinkled some such, I'd certainly rather drag out the iron over going to the dry cleaners, which is a waste of money and bad for the environment. Now, if we're talking about my mom's insane habit of wanting starched pillowcases and sheets and the hours of my life wasted on that goal, that's pretty damn useless.

#16 - Hobby Kits
It depends on the kit. I used to really like paint by numbers. I wouldn't mind putting together a model airplane or rocket. But, you know, I'm not really a kid, so who knows.

#15 - Tie Racks
I don't wear ties. However, as a disorganized person, I do like it when there is a cheap device that might make me more organized, so I can see some usefulness in a tie rack. I suppose it depends on how many ties you own.

#14 - Giveaway Thumb Drives
I agree, but let's be honest - what really do you get as a giveaway that has any sort of usefulness??? I have a squeezy star that has the name of my former company on it. At least you can do something with a thumb drive, even if it's not much? What can I do with my squeeze star besides throw it at my co-workers?

#13 - Trade Show Shwag
Here we go! The category where my squeeze star would fit. I don't know why giveaway thumb drives needed a whole separate category. Yep, trade show shwag is pretty worthless.... although I'm guessing that's something I really shouldn't share my opinion on these days. I do have an awesome mug that came from a trade show bin, though. We get a lot of this crap from running expos - Todd has an obsession with taking band-aid holders that CareFirst is always giving away at expos. I try not to take anything that I know I'm just going to throw away later.

#12 - Bargain DVDs
We watch almost none of our DVDs anyway - just Finding Nemo and Titanic, which has become our tradition when we are on vacation.

#11 - Ear Candles
Hey, I've done these! My sister got really into them for a while, so I gave it a shot once at her house. It's totally a scam, but something burning in your ear does sound pretty cool.

#10 - Books in a Kindle World
Yeah, totally disagree. I'm a bookworm, and I'm intrigued by the Kindle. But let's face it, it's expensive. You can buy a kindle for $300, and then guess what? You still have to pay for the books you want. I'm suspicious about the pricing scheme, the DRMs and licensing, and I just think that for $310 I can have a Kindle and ONE book, or I can go to a used bookstore and leave with two shopping carts full of interesting books. Books are cheap, books can be resold, books can be taken on vacation without worrying about them. I would worry that I would drop the Kindle (I dropped a book in a toilet once, it was gross. This is probably something I shouldn't share publicly, but whatever). I would worry about taking a Kindle on a beach, or throwing it in a bag with a bunch of other crap that might get crushed. I would worry about leaving a Kindle in an airport, or on a plane, or in a hotel room (done all of those with books). It's one more electronic thing that I have to deal with, worry about, support and pay for. Maybe someday, but for now, I'll take books.

#9 - Home Theater Sound System
I kind of agree with this. We have a nice sound system, and we use it sometimes. It's great when we're using it. We don't go to the movie theater except once or twice a year, so it's nice to get that theater experience at home. However, I can't see myself getting so excited about having a sound system that I'd go out and spend a bunch of money on one if we didn't already have it.

#8 - Ice Cream Makers and Bread Machines
I used to love my bread machine, and I used it a lot. I especially liked using it to make pizza dough, where I could set a timer and have it all ready when I got home. But, frankly, I wasn't using it enough to justify the amount of space that it takes up on the counter. So, I moved it away. Now, when my family asks me to bring rolls for a family dinner, I buy the bread machine mix from the grocery store, but mix it by hand rather than messing with getting out the bread machine. Far easier. As for ice cream makers... eh. We have two and we use them periodically. I like having it, but for some reason we keep the bowl in the freezer for the one time a year that we actually will use the thing. Unnecessary. I don't think ice cream makers are totally useless, I think the ice cream they make is awesome and there is something satisfying about making your own ice cream. Not to mention that it's not something you can easily do another way, like with bread. Cooking Light has some really interesting sorbet recipes, too.

#7 - VCR+ Capabilities
Yeah, I had to read the article to even remember WTF VCRPlus was, so I guess it's pretty useless. But, so what? It's outdated, like a lot of things.

#6 - Ionic Breeze
Yep. Useless.

#5 - Single-Slot Piggy Banks
Well, yeah. But, aren't these more of a decorative item anyways?

#4 - Ab Rollers
All of the ab gimmicks are useless. Do some crunches and like it!

#3 - Radar Detectors
Just do the speed limit and pay attention. Or, just drive reasonably, how about that? I don't always do the speed limit. There isn't a need to go speeding around anywhere, and there is just something weird about owning something meant to help you break the law.

#2 - Wipe Warmers
I don't have a baby. Do people really own these?

#1 - Happy Meal Toys
Here's an idea - save all of your Happy Meal Toys and then give them away to trick or treaters.

Now, there are some horrible things that are not on the list.... My most worthless list?
  • Waffle Irons - Stupid. No one makes waffles that often.
  • Popcorn Poppers - Get the microwave kind.
  • Devices to make pancakes into shapes - Because three circles to make a Mickey head is all you need.
  • Double Boilers - Is there something that exists to replace these? Do people still use them? I only mention this because there's a recipe I want to make that claims to require one, and I need another method.
  • Avocado slicer - this was an impulse buy at the grocery store that I sort of regret.
  • Bagel slicers - what, a knife isn't good enough?


Abby said...

It's easy to replace the double boiler - you need a pot with water in it, just like the bottom of a double boiler. Then, instead of the special pot designed to fit inside from the double boiler, you uses a metal bowl with a bottom that will fit down inside the first pot without touching the water. Basically, the bowl needs to be heated by the steam from the water without touching it. The only drawback we've found to this is that the metal bowl gets discolored if you do it a lot, but it's just a metal mixing bowl so it's not a big deal.

Erika said...

I impulse bought the avocado slicer. I used it once and it was so annoying.

Kim said...

Do you think you can use a glass bowl instead of metal?

Mary said...

do not use a glass bowl for the double boiler! The rapid temperature change can cause your bowl to break--very dangerous mix of glass and hot liquid. I do what Abby does.

I also find the rice cooker to be not worthless. BUT, I only get the kind that also has a steamer basket. I actually use it more to steam veggies than to cook rice and sometimes do both simultaneously. I use this enough that, with the last one I purchased, I dug through boxes of all the varieties at target to be sure that the one I bought met my standards for durability.

Kim said...

I will have to see if I still have metal bowls or if they were lost in the divorce. I will dig through boxes to check at some point. I'm in no hurry. I know Alton Brown melted chocolate with a heating pad placed under a glass bowl (which doesn't cause a rapid temp change), so maybe I'll go that route instead. Someday, I'll make the "Chocolate Heaven" dessert from Belize.

Mary, your rice cooker sounds nice. I have a cheap one that I had registered for when I got married the first time, and I know it's inadequate. I could certainly stand to upgrade, so maybe that is something I'll do soon.

Mary said...

You can also melt chocolate in the microwave--I don't do it, but lots of people do pretty successfully.

I did a lot of research the last time I bought the rice cooker, trying to see if the really expensive kind would be really worth it and decided I didn't cook enough rice for all that. What I ended up getting runs about $30 at Target--solidly built and has some elevated features but no timer or anything.

Kim said...

I haven't always been successful at melting chocolate in the microwave. Results have been mediocre at best. White chocolate does not do well melted in the microwave, certainly.

Wacky Neighbor said...

Single omelet pan - it looked nifty, but the pan instantly scorched, left a mark on the glass-top range, and made an inedible omelet. Trashed after one use. Blah. So long $10.

Kim said...

I almost said omelet pan! We used to have one and it was horrible!

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