How to Invent Unuseless Things
The How-To Cowboy, aka Edward Allan Faine, will be at the North Beach Bayfest August 24 &25
As recently reported in The Washington Post Kids Post (Thursday, January 24, 2002), unuseless inventions are all the rage, especially in Japan where they are known as chindogu (chin, meaning unusual, dogu meaning tool. How about tiny dustmops for your cats feet? Or shoulder-mounted nets to keep your earrings from falling on the ground? A strap-on mouth stencil for that perfectly shaped lipstick outline? A hat with tiny clothespins to hold up your eyelids for that wide-awake look? Got the idea? A solution to a problem that is ... well ... not really a solution, and sort of funny.
There are two books of chindogu by the inventor, Kenji Kawakami, namely: 97 Unuseless Japanese Inventions (1997) and 100 Unuseless Japanese Inventions (1995), both published by W.W. Norton and Company. Herewith, below, the Cowboy profers three humble chindogu for the betterment of humankind:
Couch Collection Cups
Tired of losing precious currency, pens, keys and pocket mementos to that hungry couch? Insert cups and collection bag. Invite the neighbors, strangers even, to sit on the couch, then after they leave, check the loot bag for untold treasures.
Restaurant Flash Cards
For those awkward moments when you are approached by the server, who, when your mouth is stuffed to the gills, asks, How is everything? or Can I get you anything else? No need to quickly chew, swallow and mumble. Just flash the appropriate card and finish your meal in peace.
Satellite Sock Tracker
No more lost socks! Just clip a miniature satellite transmitter to each of your socks and track their whereabouts on your color monitor. Upgrades are readily available for gloves, earrings or other body accessories.
The How-To RanchHand Challenge: Send a unique How-To trick to IM Press, Box 5346, Takoma Park, MD 20913 with step-by-step instructions. If accepted, you will see your trick published in this space, receive a LITTLE NED STORIES book and a $10 check. Visit the cowboys website: http://www.takoma.com/ned/home.htm
Saturday, August 10
Find ways to beat the heat like people did before electricity. Find cool spots and cool food. Ages 5-8. 10-noon @ William Paca House, Annapolis: $6.50 w/ discounts. Rsvp; 410/267-7619.
Enjoy more than 80 tables of reptiles and amphibians at the All-American Reptile Show. You can even buy some supplies to take home for your own reptile. 9am-3pm @ Havre de Grace Community Center; 410/526-4184.
The Stars are Falling
Actually, its just Perseid meteors streaking across the sky, but it will be quite a show w/ up to 110 meteors expected per hour. Free @ Sunset @ in your own backyard or at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum, St. Leonard; 410/586-8502.
Sunday, August 11
An Amazing Maze
The Organic Corn Maze is back. The largest maze has 3.5 miles of trails, with smaller mazes for the younger crowd. $8 w/age discounts. Noon to dark weekends thru Oct. @ Horizon Organic Farm, Gambrills: 866/343-5802.
Experience different ways to travel the Maryland waterways, including canoeing on the Patuxent River and kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay, even some river rafting. Be prepared to get wet. Ages 10-11. $270 @ Calvert County, location varies; rsvp: 410/535-5327.