Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Plato Was Probably an Optimist

Over the years, I have rolled my eyes more times than I can count, when hearing about some new invention that is supposed to revolutionize how we live our lives.  As it turned out, a number of those ideas did, in fact,  change EVERYTHING.  Shows what I know. Regrettably, I can't undo an eye roll, can I?

For many of my readers that have read more than one or two of my posts, you have no doubt,  figured out  that I am nothing, if not,  a skeptic. Yes, indeedy, I wear my cynicism  and skepticism like other women wear chin-to-ankle Spanx.  Firmly ensconced and hard to remove.  This is especially true when someone is trying to "sell" me something.

There are so many products out there being introduced as the "must haves" and yet I find that while they may be things I would enjoy, they aren't things I require.   Oh...I might still buy them for the enjoyment factor,  but attaching  the word NECESSITY is a far stretch. 

Do I really think that most inventions that hit the market came into being because we required them?
I think Plato had it all wrong when he used the word necessity or at least it being used singularly.  I think this is more accurate.
Perhaps the Mother of Invention was a lazy, greedy mother that had some addictions.

 I have upon occasion had flashes of brilliance as far as "inventing" goes,  (mostly in the category of either hoping for wealth or needing to create a shortcut) but never went to so far as to get a patent.  Therefore, it could be said, I have no right poking criticism at ideas that others are trying to promote....but here I am doing just that.

Take for example these products: Were they necessities?

Baby duster for floors? 
If the baby duster is a complete failure
Does this cap look better than baldness? 
Complete loss of dignity is a known side effect

Thought Number One:  The Store Where You Pay to Break Things

This week there has been a number of news reports about the store front in Boise, ID where a guy is marketing the concept of  smashing things as a type of therapy.  The store called Das Breakroom was started by Tom Farrenkopf.  He charges people a fee to come in and smash things such as lamps, dishes electronics, vacuums and furniture.  The pictures show it to be an extremely "no frills" kind of operation.
The prices are reasonable (I guess) for those that feel enough rage that they need to destroy something. You can smash a single item for $3.00. Since it isn't an item from your home, I guess one could consider that as a type of savings really. 

Tom encourages people to come in for "recreational destruction".  One of the articles I read prior to writing this post had  a recent client say,  "So don't break plates at home, people.  Das Breakroom is where you need to go. Why don't more cities have places like these?" 

At $3.00 per item, Crabby Pants is figuring out the budget plan.

 As I am not in the habit of breaking my dishes or electronics due to uncontrollable rage, I don't think this is a necessity for me but perhaps, I am being short sighted.  Maybe the next "new product" will be more in demand.

Thought Number Two:  Palcohol: No more toting bottles and cans when you need a drink.

The alternatives could of been worse
There is some controversy brewing (no pun intended) regarding  the release of powered alcohol. The Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had approved the release of Palcohol but then within the last few days  news came out that there was a reversal by the TTB saying that the approval was made in error. I am  shocked, of course, that a government entity would make an error but it seems that it did.  (You can go to the Palcohol website
to read more about what is going on.)

On the outside chance you haven't heard of Palcohol...it is a powered drink mix in the same vein as the kiddy fruit powdered drinks but this powder is strictly for the adults.  It turns water, juice or whatever you mix it in, into an alcoholic treat. Currently the powder comes in four flavors: Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Powderita (margarita) and Lemon Drop.

At least part of the reason you won't get to buy little packets of booze anytime soon, is that there are issues dealing with all the warnings that need to be put onto the label.  One of the items that need to be added to the label is, "this product is not to be snorted."   (Seriously,  doesn't that warning need to be put on just about every item that is for purchase...legally?)

SOOOO...who really is the Mother of Invention?  I would say she is closely related to someone at a PR firm.  I will say that at least until I come up with a brilliant idea that becomes the next must have.  Then we are good to call my invention a necessity.

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Wendy said...

I laughed at the self check out lane comic. Honestly, I have never asked any man to buy that for me. Seriously, does it really happen all that often?. I am not the procrastination type, so maybe this is why I don't understand that. I should run the hat idea past the slew of young(er) men I know who are bald. A lot of them actually do wear caps to hide it. One had a girl come and rip the cap right off his head at a pub to see if he had hair under it, to see if she wanted to dance with him. Yicks! I confess there are days that I have been tempted to smash something in frustration, so I can relate to the idea. But, you need to drive to that place to do it? Ah...are you driving to Das Breakroom in a rage? How do you calmly walk into the place and then smash something to bits? I must give the guy credit for finding a way to recycle thrown out stuff. The baby duster seems like a good idea for those who are challenged to bent over, yet, I wonder what happens to the dust in the bin? Take the shoe off, obviously ,but then, doesn't one need to bend over to pick it up, anyways? I confess that I enjoy crazy and fun inventions because I think it is good to be creative in life. I enjoy thinking outside the box, even though there is a good book called Inside the box, which suggests you get out of a problem with only what you have on hand. It perks the brain cells to think in a different way. However, I so absolutely agree with you that quite a few 'inventions' today are hardly necessities. Love that Venn diagram, that so clearly conveys it. I did buy a jar opener last year , plastic with rubber insert for $1. Good invention. And a necessity!

Katherine Murray said...

Ahhhhh but a Dyson... I want a dyson SOOOO BADDDDDDDD ha ha ha!

I am forever looking for the must have curly frizzy hair product... I see the ads and want hair products to no end... there must be "something" out there that will calm my frizz! But I soon learned that nope... it isn't what the commercial says. Like Wen... that stuff is probably wonderful but if you look at all the reviews, people BASH the company for the way you have to buy something every month. So yup I get it!

Jo-Anne said...

Palcohol never heard of it and I could have gone through life not hearing off it........just saying
There is no way I would pay someone to go into their store to smash stuff wouldn't it be cheaper to go to the dollar shop and buy a couple of cheap glasses and smash them

oldereyes said...

Great ... and very funny post. You are very inventive at finding these oddities and grat ot commenting on them. I believe that these days, most patents are institutional, that is they are made by people who work for companies who get the rights to anything they invent. I hold six patents ... I got a leather covered book and a few hundred dollars from my employer for each one for my trouble. The inventions are so obscure, they could not possibly be called a necessity. Not a single one came in a flash of brilliance but developed out of doing my job, which I guess rules out laziness. Of course, all that would have made a pretty boring post, wouldn't it. It in fact made a boring comment.

Powdered alcohol would seem to raise all sorts of interesting issues. For example, can you make a super strong drink by using less water? Can you just eat the powder to get loaded? If police find you with an open Kool-Aid package while you're driving, will they test it to see if it's palcohol then ticket you for an open container. The possibilities seem endless.

Cheryl P. said...

I, too never asked my husband to shop for me. I think in any given week I can manage to get to a store. Perhaps, some of the men do the household shopping regularly so that would apply.

As for the lifting the hat to see if a guy is bald. How shallow is that. I don't have a problem with bald...in fact, I think some guys wear it well but I wouldn't gauge my availability for a dance based on the amount of hair a man had. Funny that a woman would do that but more than likely that same woman wouldn't want to be judged by her weight.

That is very inciteful!! By the time a person got in the car and drove somewhere, wouldn't they have cooled down. If not would they have road rage?

As for the baby duster...I am assuming that back in the day when my little ones crawled around on the floor they might of gathered some dust but I wouldn't of wanted to use them as my dust mop. That can't be healthy on overly dirty floors to have your little ones inhaling dog dander and street grime. I am thinking whoever invented that was lazy and not the worlds best mommy. I, also wonder how many of those sold. Did women all over the world say "Great idea, let's put the baby to work on the floors."

As for the slipper dust bin...I am not that coordinated to make it work properly. I would hate to tell the ER doc I fractured my hip while sweeping up my floor.

I, too love "gadgets" I hardly ever watch infomercials because I would buy whatever they are selling if it sounds interesting. I have managed to buy an array of dicer, slicers, cookers, steamers etc. Not one of those things was necessary but I do use a number of them on a regular basis. I have several versions of jar openers and consider them a necessity. My husband puts lids on jars tight enough to withstand an Armageddon. I don't know why he thinks extreme lid adhesion is so important but yet he does.
I have attached a prototype of the type of bottle opener that would be required at our house.

Cheryl P. said...

For what it''s worth...I love new "gadgets" and am a total sucker for buying the "new and improved" of most things. The Dyson was out about a minute and a half when I felt the need to buy one. BUT nearly anything that is promoted as the best EVER is neither the best nor is it necessary. I am more amazed at the stupid gadgets that seem to take off like the Pet rock or Chia pets. Even the dusting onesie for a baby...did people really buy that?

Also...I LOOOOVVVVEEEE your hair. I have curly hair and appreciate the fact it frizzes but your hair is AWESOME in pictures. I can only assume it is equally so in real life. I didn't realized that Wen products were under the deal of ongoing purchases. Not that I have need of Proactive but I would never sign up for regular shipments of anything.

Cheryl P. said...

I hadn't heard of it either...which is surprising because the article says it's been around for decades.

The whole smashing thing looks stupid to me. So you pay 3 bucks and smash a toaster....meh...big deal. I would rather go to the gym and punch a punching bag.

Cheryl P. said...

I am sure you are right about the vast majority of patents being held by corporations. I was reading an article about IBM selling off a portion of their 70,000 plus patents to either Microsoft or Google (it escapes me now who was buying them) as it was going to help them in a lawsuit over some technology they used on a smartphone. But, as to your point, companies like Intel, Microsoft, IBM etc. have all these patents in play thanks to their employees that have industry related expertise.

I think it is awesome that you hold six patents. Doesn't matter if they are industry specific...you still had ideas that were important enough within your field that people felt needed to be protected. While your ideas might not of come out of laziness, or as a result of being under the influence of something...I have to think it was useful and usable.

As for the Palcohol...I find this is another topic that will have a lot of gray area if it is released. There are 4 flavors but there is also a vodka and rum version. I see a huge capacity for the vodka in particular to be used indiscriminately. For addictive personalities, who is to say, that breakfast oatmeal doesn't become laced with vodka. We are talking about real alcohol here. Little white packets are easily transportable. I definitely understand the rescission of the label to add the "do not snort". BUT, of course, people will because everything from bath salts to the candy "Smarties" is snortable. Really? Does a person just wake up one day and say, what can I inhale today that might make me euphoric without killing me?

I am assuming your are correct that by adding less water the alcohol content would be higher. The articles say the packets are to be mixed with 5 oz of water. What happens if you sprinkle it on your hot dog at the ball park and have a beer chaser?

Oh yeah...this is laced with problems.

abeerfortheshower said...

So... if it's powdered alcohol, we all know it's going to taste like absolute crap when mixed, right? But hey, at least it's easier to get drunk and be stealthy about it.

When it comes to products we don't need, my favorite is the Bluetooth microwave. That's right, there's a microwave which you can connect to with Bluetooth and instead of using those pesky, annoying buttons you can program it using your smartphone.

Putting in a TV dinner and pushing the "4 minutes" button is way too hard. So thank God we have the luxury of connecting via Bluetooth, opening the app, setting the timer, and clicking to confirm. So much easier!


lisleman said...

undo an eye roll - stand on your head and throw salt over your feet - people around you will completely forget about the eye roll.
Das Breakroom - certainly not new (well maybe in Idaho - they are in a different time zone) I recall (not the details) of service/store/business like this about 10 years ago. It may have been limited to dishes. Oh and then you had those sledgehammer a car for charity things long ago.
Palcohol - strange - My guess is there is a group of people who will buy anything new and different only because it's new and different.

lisleman said...

I know what you mean about companies owning patents. I don't have my name on any but a few my past co-workers did. We sign away our rights with the employment agreements. I see the need for patents in a general way but the system has been gamed by lawyers and big money to the point of it creating anti-inventiveness.

Cheryl P. said...

That comment would make the Comment Hall of Fame if there was such a hall. Love the cartoon...really funny!!!!

for the taste of Palcohol. You are probably right that it won't come
up to the tasty levels of some of your favorite beers but I am convinced
that there are people that would drink turpentine if it gave them a
buzz. How can you explain Everclear? It's not a fruity, yummy drink
that you could put a little paper umbrella in. Not that I drink.... but I
have a slew of drunken relatives that have described Everclear as
drinking liquid fire with sharp nails invisibley hidden in it. So I
think it is safe to say that the popularity of powered drink mixes that
can get you drunk, won't be diminished because of the taste. Besides to
spruce of the taste, the average drinker will mix it into their
traditionally mixed margaritas and mojitos. If one is good, two is
better and only one dirty glass.

Seriously?? A bluetooth microwave. We are a lost society!!! God forbid that we actually have to get off the couch to go push the button on the microwave oven. But we shouldn't be surprised, should we? We have personal assistants (Siri) on our phone to tell her to send an email for us. Wasn't the fact that we carry a portable computer/phone so we could send emails easier (even better Instant Message) but no that isn't good enough. We need something else to actually save us from the labor of punching in "C U L8TR"

Cheryl P. said...

I kind of remember the smashing plates service/store whatever it was. I am still amazed at what people consider great ideas. How could they possibly go wrong?

I find the Palcohol subject interesting from the vantage point of it being a regulated government substance under the control of alcohol sales. I figure that alone will surely set the stage for a huge bureaucratic mess.

I agree that it will take off like a rocket because it's new but I think there is also going to be the added thrill of making a "regulated substance" more easily used and abused. No more worrying about sneaking bottles and cans into places because now you can slip some envelopes into your pocket. How handy is that?

Even the guy that is the "inventor" of Palcohol, Mark Phillips, said he was developing Palcohol because after running/biking/hiking he needed an adult beverage to relax? I guess he hasn't met the guy that invented water.

Chubby Chatterbox said...

A fun post. Did you know that the guy who invented aspirin refused to patent his invention because he thought all of mankind should benefit from his invention.

Cheryl P. said...

While I admire his altruistic attitude, I am the person that would want all of mankind to benefit while I deposit big checks into my bank account for having been so clever to invent aspirin. Clearly, I am not as noble as that guy.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I like the cap with the fake hair . . . SEXY!

Riot Kitty said...

I will take cynicism over Spankx any day! So I have to ask - the baby duster is for real??! Isn't that child abuse of a sort? The fake hair hat...just. Wow.

You're right about adding the "do not snort" instructions to everything for sale. I wish we could come up with something that prevented people from being stupid.

Cheryl said...

Extreme Lid Adhesion - sounds like a new sporting event just waiting to be invented!

Cheryl said...

There isn't anything new that I need or have to own. In fact, when I have to replace something because it's broken, I'm more than a little overwhelmed with trying to find something to do the same job that doesn't require I learn a new technique. This is especially hair-raising when it comes to anything electronic because I'm not a chronic updater. By the time I've worn out something mechanical, new technology has made me obsolete. Not only does it drive me crazy, I also feel like a complete idiot because I can't figure out how to operate the new and improved equipment. GAH!

As for Palcohol, I hope it's never approved. There are already enough people dying from alcohol poisoning and this would just boost those numbers, largely because most people don't realize that alcohol can kill you as fast as overdosing on any other drug.

Cheryl P. said...

If it makes it's way to the Olympics, I am going to urge my husband to try out for team U.S.A. It's a sure bet he will get a gold medal.

Cheryl P. said...

Hahaha...I would love for you to send me a picture of a guy that defines what you consider sexy. I bet I would be highly amused. The thing about that hat is, it might (and the use of "might" is even questionable) be OK on a tennis court but what about going to a funeral, church, business meeting.
Of course, I guess he could get creative....

Cheryl P. said...

You and me both. I wear cynicism quite well.
Yes, that baby duster thing is real. It started as a spoof out of Japan but then some guy (from guess where..can we say USA) started selling them on line for 40 dollars a pop. You should read some of the reviews. One person said they weren't getting the desired effect and thought they needed to be infused with Murphey's Oil. Another person said she puts them on all the kids at her daycare. I guess she can claim the cleanest floors in the realm of day cares.
Huffington Post did a story on them as well. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/baby-mop_n_2117703.html
Every time I hear about someone snorting something I just have to wonder about how "minds" work. Not once in my entire life did it occur to me to take my bath salts and say "wonder if I could get high on these?" Although in my case my Calgon Bath Oil Beads might make my nasal passages silky smooth. I have not put that to the test.

Cheryl P. said...

That is totally true of me too. I don't need anything but, unfortunately for me, that won't necessarily stop me from buying new stuff. I love new electronics. It's a sickness, really. I am totally intrigued and entertained by new technology. I will agree that there are times that it's frustrating trying to figure out how something works or getting comfortable with it but invariably, I find I love basking in the glow of something new....right up until the new is replaced with something newer.
I am in total agreement with you about Palcohol. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. It's hard enough to keep tabs on the abuse of alcohol now. This sounds like it would be for too easy to transport unnoticed and another way for underage drinkers to get into trouble.
I won't be surprised, however, if it gets released as it was approved at one point already....then recinded over the labeling issues. I can think of a lot of reasons besides the lack of proper warning labels why our society doesn't need little packs of undiluted alchohol being carried around .

pearlvz said...

Not "who" is the mother of invention but "what", as in the Mothers (plural!) of Invention, Frank Zappa's back-up band. :-)

Nicely written post.

Greetings from Minneapolis,


Cheryl P. said...

Hi Pearl, so glad you stopped by. Thanks!

As coincidence would have it...when I did a Google search using the phrase "mother of invention" to get an idea what picture to use for my "two thoughts for Tues." nearly every google image was of the band or band related items. Seems the Mothers of Invention are far more popular at Google than the mother of invention as described by Plato.

Has the cold weather finally left your area? We are past it (knock on wood) here in Kansas City, I hope but you poor Minnesotans are getting a break from all bad weather. You have had a quite a harsh winter, haven't you?

Chickens Consigliere said...

When you come up with your great idea, check out Quirky. It's a website where you can collaborate on inventions and share the wealth.

Cheryl P. said...

I watched a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about Quirky and then when I went to write this post I couldn't remember the name of the company. It was on the tip of my tongue...knew is started with a Qu...AND It was driving me nuts. Even Google searches didn't help. Whew...thank goodness you are around to save me from weeks of torment trying to remember that company. Oddly though, when I Googled "companies that launch inventions" there are a ton of companies that do that. (Quirky didn't come up) Now if only I had a great idea.

Lady Jewels Diva said...

Well I guess everything has been invented because someone deemed it possible to make and was desperately needed by the public to make life better. I thought that baby sweeper was actually cute, but that hat hair thing looks like a hedgehog chia pet.

Jayne said...

Hey, that powdered alcohol is genius! Sign me up!

Dexter Klemperer said...

I certainly enjoy alcohol, but I'm drawing the line at palcohol (unless
you're talking about a pal that always brings beer over). And yes, they
will need the snort warning and probably a lot more. I do like the hat
with the faux hair though.

Cheryl P. said...

Well that and the hope of making money, I would guess. Selling stupid stuff is still selling stuff. That is a very good description of the hat. Very hedgehog looking for sure.

Cheryl P. said...

It doesn't come in wine flavor yet but the margarita flavor might do. If it gets released you will have to give us a review. I can't drink alcohol so, I wouldn't be the one to say if it is drinkable.

Cheryl P. said...

If the palcohol really gets released there are going to be all kinds of problems with it. It's hard enough to control now without making it even more transportable.

Dang, I wish I had your address, I would order up one of those hats and send it your way just so you could do a review for us. Bet that would be a bad decision on a hot day in Texas.

Debi O'Neille said...

I needed a laugh, and your certainly provided that. Love your blog, and I'm now your newest follower. where can I get one of those tiny dusters?

Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Cheryl P. said...

I am so glad you found some humor in my rantings. Thank you so much for coming by and following. Now I am feeling guilty as I usually post on Tuesday but (hanging my head in shame) haven't done ZIP this week on my blog. Brand new and I have already left you hanging. I would send a letter of complaint if I were you.
Seriously...so nice to see a new follower. Looking forward to getting to know you.