Every so often, mankind comes up with a really good invention. The wheel, the light bulb, and the Internet are all examples of innovations that have changed our daily lives. However, the U.S. Patent Office has issued over 7.5 million patents, and not all of them are quite so celebrated. Some good, some bad, and some downright wacky! The following lists some of the more unusual ideas that have come along.
Keeping beer cold on a hot day is an age-old problem, and the beerbrella is a humorous attempt to solve it. It is simply a miniature umbrella that fastens to the brew to block out those hot sun rays. Unfortunately, there is a design flaw: The umbrella creates a physical barrier to drinking the beer, and someone who has had a few too many may put an eye out with the thing.
In 1882, a patent was issued for an unconventional mousetrap. The design was simple: a mousetrap was connected to a loaded handgun, so that when the poor rodent took the bait, it was blown to smithereens. “Yeehaw! No more stinkin’ varmints!” Although the Mouseblaster has obvious safety issues and may be a bit overzealous, it was probably a very effective exterminator.
Portable Automobile Partition
Long road trips can be a trying time for parents. If the kids aren’t asking for a bathroom break every 10 minutes, they are poking, tickling, and generally annoying each other. The Portable Automobile Partition provides an unsubtle solution. It is a transparent divider that is placed in the middle of the backseat to halt bickering, allowing parents to enjoy elusive serenity.
In 2002, a patent was issued for a snake-walking leash. There are at least three major problems with this idea. 1) Dog leashes fit securely between the head and shoulders. A snake does not have shoulders, so it might slither away. 2:) “Walking the snake” is an oxymoron. 3) Dogs are OK for public places because they are social animals, and people like them. Snakes are not OK for public places because they are not social, and some people are terrified of them.
It is easy to see why this weight-loss contraption did not gain popularity after it was patented in 1982. This cage, which is strapped over the mouth and padlocked, is quite intimidating and would probably frighten small children. The problems, however, are more than cosmetic. While the design prevents its wearer from eating junk food, which is good, it also prevents its wearer from eating anything at all, which is not healthy. Also, what if someone loses the key?
Big Daddy Driver™
This unconventional golf club may save its owner a stroke or two. Although the Big Daddy Driver™ fits in the golf bag and looks like a driver, it is really a weed eater. When a shot is sliced into deep rough, the golfer opens the club head and starts weed-whacking away, turning a difficult shot into a piece of cake. A true golf fan may even perfect his swing the next time he is doing yard work!
Americans are known for our love of sports. Unfortunately, good tickets to games are expensive, and some fans have to sit in the nosebleed sections. This invention, patented in 2000, is designed for these fans. Featuring a built-in radio, flip-up binoculars, a cooling fan, and a helmet for falling peanut debris, this innovation transforms the stadium experience.
Man’s best friend has always provided us with great companionship and unconditional love. Regrettably, some of us can’t return the favor because we are busy and overworked. The Petter was invented so that our dogs won’t get so lonely. It is a mechanical arm that pets the dog when the master is not around. Nothing says love like the rigid embrace of a cold, steel, artificial arm.
Wake N’ Bacon Alarm Clock™
When you think about it, waking to the dreadful, blaring noise of an alarm clock is a terrible way to start the day. However, this ingenious device could change that. To use, you simply put bacon in a built-in tray, set the alarm, and go to sleep. The next morning, you wake up to the smell of freshly cooked bacon. Who said there’s no time to eat breakfast?
This invention exists for the fans that are too die-hard for jerseys, t-shirts, or foam No. 1 fingers. For those of us who really want to support our team, the stencil hat is a must-have. It is a regular ball cap with a cutout in it, so that the wearer can sunburn the home team’s logo onto his forehead. Hey, nobody said dedication was easy.
Portable Office Tie
There are certain things that a good businessman needs to have on him at all times. However, a briefcase can be big and clunky, and a man-purse is socially unacceptable. The Portable Office Tie is an ingenious solution to this problem. It is a conventional necktie that holds business cards, pens, paperclips and more. A simple flip of the tie provides business essentials, and its user is hands-free.
Image courtesy Throx, LLC
Another age-old dilemma is the missing sock. Unlike clothes hangers, which seem to multiply in the closet, socks seem to disappear each time you do the laundry; and a sock missing its partner is a sad thing indeed. Inventor Edwin Heaven has come up with a practical solution to the problem—Throx™. His company distributes socks in three’s so that the missing sock has a backup.
Human Bird Feeder
People have always admired the gracefulness and beauty of birds, and bird watching is a popular hobby. Unfortunately, getting up close and personal is a challenge. That is, until now. In 1999, a patent was issued for a helmet with birdfeeders attached to it. Although there may be a design flaw (turning the head to see the birds would probably startle them), this innovation could change the whole complexion of bird watching.
In 1969, a patent was issued for a really bad idea- the toilet seat lock. First of all, fishing for your keys when you have to go seems very unpleasant. Then there is the possibility of losing the key altogether. What about guests? It seems weird that they would have to ask permission for the bathroom. Not the least of the problems is the cleanup after someone could no longer hold it. Of course, there is the ultimate question: Why would you lock it in the first place?
Art and illustration critic David Apatoff takes a closer look at the men and women who created many of the Post’s most memorable covers. He also reviews other well-regarded illustrators and shares stunning but rarely seen sketches and paintings.
Internationally acclaimed cardiologist Douglas Zipes provides his expert commentary on the latest in health and medicine, including the updates on medical breakthroughs, study results, and advice on healthy living.
Steve Weisman is one of the country’s leading experts in cybersecurity and identity theft. His column keeps you up to date on the latest scams and offers recommendations on protecting yourself from digital criminals.
The News of the Week can be read every Friday. Bob Sassone rounds up the week's news in pop culture, books, food, technology, health, and current events, looks back at important moments in history, and gives a preview of upcoming holidays and events.