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As seen on the tube, they sometimes do what they do

Published July 9, 2006

I never believed in gadgets. I always thought they were more trouble than they were worth.

Recently, my brother and I traveled from Canton, Ohio, to Pittsburgh to visit my son. My brother had one of those handheld Global Positioning System receivers. Every two minutes he would look at the device, which made me a little nervous. I thought he should be looking at the road.

When I asked him why he continually checked the monitor, he replied that he didn't want to get lost. The route was pretty direct, but I didn't say any more.

As we neared Pittsburgh, we got onto an interstate. My brother continued to monitor his monitor. As a result, we missed our turnoff and had to go 10 miles out of our way.

So much for that gadget. I suppose, if used correctly, it could be a handy tool.

My mom loved gadgets. She was a patsy for anyone selling anything on TV that would supposedly make her life easier. After she passed away, and my sister and brother and I cleaned out the house, we found many unusual items. Their uses were mostly a mystery to us. Going through her kitchen cabinets reminded me of the game I used to play with my students at school. It was called, "It Isn't What It Is, and It Doesn't Do What It Does."

I would hold up an object, and the students had to think of a new function for it. Then they had to tell a story to go with the object.

But I was talking about my mother's gadgets. We found a pair of wooden tweezers. It took us a while to figure out that they were for removing toast from the toaster. Now that I think of it, that's not a bad invention. It certainly beats trying to use a knife and risking electrocution.

We found an oddly shaped item, wooden, again, with three holes drilled through the center. We pondered this for some time until a neighbor informed us that it was used to measure spaghetti noodles.

The small hole was for two people, the medium hole for four and the larger hole for six. I usually just guess when making pasta.

We found a salad spinner. After washing the lettuce and mixing in salad ingredients, you were to dump them in the spinner. It removed the excess moisture and tossed your salad at the same time.

Another item we came across was a "grabber." My mother was only 4 feet 11, so she used it to grab items from top shelves. It saved her from climbing on a stool or a ladder.

And, of course, there was the "Clapper." This was before remote controls were in fashion ( probably saved a lot of marriages). You plugged it in the wall behind your TV. You clapped, and the TV turned on or off.

This meant my mom didn't have to get out of bed to turn off the television. It was great until it thundered. Then the TV would go on or off at the will of Mother Nature.

I secretly chuckled at these items and wondered how anyone could be taken in by these sales pitches. Then, several weeks ago, I saw an ad on TV for one of those pasta makers.

It promised me pasta in only eight minutes with no fuss and no mess. You were supposed to boil water, pour it into a tube along with your spaghetti noodles and voila, your dinner was done!

Of course, there was more. If I ordered the pasta cooker, I would receive a smaller cooker along with a recipe book.

I hate the mess that pasta makes when you cook it in a pan. It boils over and you are left with a stove top to clean up. So I bit, and I ordered the miraculous machine.

When it arrived, my husband suggested that we try tortellini in the amazing invention. It was great! It cooked those tasty morsels in eight minutes flat, to perfection, without any mess! I have told friends and neighbors about this machine. What a wonderful idea.

That invention worked so well that when my cat started to shed because of the heat, I went about trying to find a gadget to solve that problem.

While at a mall, I discovered a store called As Seen On TV. There was a showroom full of all those items on sale on TV that are to save you time and energy.

I found a comb specially made for shedding cats. If the pasta machine worked, maybe the comb would, too. So I purchased it and brought it home. It did work. I got enough fur out of my cat to make a small jacket.

What was even better, my cat loved to be combed. Now we sit on the patio morning, noon and night, discussing the weather or any topic of his choice and removing his unwanted fur.

I will never chuckle again at these ingenious inventions shown on TV that are also making some people very rich. I won't fall for them all, but I will give them more thought when I see them advertised.

Thought for the day: If it will make your life easier, why not?

[Last modified July 8, 2006, 22:26:50]

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