User Input

User Input: Lazy-Assed Conveniences

In the 1950’s and 60’s, a flood of new conveniences surged onto the market. Inventors were perpetually coming up with new ideas to make our lives more comfortable and efficient. And why not? It was the age of invention! Robots were the future, we were soaring into space, and computers and electronics were supposed to be our saviours to make life more comfortable. But then, something happened.

Somewhere along the way, we wandered off the appropriate path laid out for us. Society’s use of technology surged wildly in two directions; some pieces of technology enabled us to work more, and get more done. Suddenly we could work from home, from the car, while on vacation, and in the middle of the night. Down time? Relaxation? Why on earth would you need that? You should be working all the time, we have the technology!

But even that isn’t the worst of it. The rest of technology, it seems, started to cater to that particular subset of society who need it the least: the Lazy-Ass. You know the one. The guy who has a remote control to operate a powered table that will swing across the room to bring him the other remote control that operates the TV. The guy who buys a mobility scooter, not because he needs one for any kind of legitimate reason, but because walking is too hard, and it’s way better to sit on your ass and have electric motors shuffle you around.

What is the most excessively obnoxious lazy-assed “convenience” gadget?

  • The electric can opener.

  • The Professor
  • Not gadgets per se but I have an ongoing debate with the Mrs. over the relative value of pre-shredded cheese and bags of peeled baby carrots. Her insistence on the latter is particularly annoying, as I like to eat carrots unpeeled.

    • TurboBrick

      I'm with you on this! The pre-shredded cheese is particularly nasty, as they have to toss it in something (some kind of starch, perhaps?) to keep it from clumping and the result is a powdery texture and cheese that goes stale instantly. I also prefer that my carrots have a long and fruitful life so I won't eat them until as adults, and peeling hasn't been a problem since I got my OXO peeler which is actually comfortable to use.

      My problem with stuff like pre-cut, pre-washed lettuce is that how in the hell do you know who did the washing and how? You may imagine a high-tech facility that picks up each individual leaf and cleans it, but I'm picturing something that looks like my grandma's potato cellar, and a random migrant worker with a garden hose.

      • GlassOnion9

        It is indeed some kind of starch. Specifically, cellulose. Effectively it is sawdust.

    • SSurfer321
    • Mr_Biggles

      My first thoughts were also of the lazy bastard food variety. The other day I saw an ad for pre-drained tuna in a can. It was marketed as a convenience feature and time saver. And like the website says: ALREADY DRAINED, READY TO ENJOY! Our cat would be pissed if he stopped getting tuna juice every now and again.
      http://www.goldseal.ca/products/no_drain_tuna.asp

  • Any electrically powered ride on toy such as the power wheels. What's wrong with a pedal car?

    • SSurfer321

      You can't hook a car battery up to a pedal car.

      • OA5599

        1 car battery = still only 12 volts (also spillable acid, depending on the battery).
        2 wheelchair/UPS batteries = 24 volts and a hotrodded Power Wheels.

        Actually, 18 volts is the sweet spot for Power Wheels mods. 24 volts will start melting the stock 12V motors unless you keep the extra voltage to a short duty cycle, but what kid wants to step away from his car to let it cool down?

        • TurboBrick

          So three 6V UPS batteries then…

          • OA5599

            You can upgrade the motors, but that's a lot more engineering than adding extra batteries in series.

            If you can do it securely and without danger of shorting the terminals or wiring, mount the additional battery/ies aft of the rear axle for counterbalance, and your kid can be the king of the wheelies.

            Also note that different Power Wheels toys use different gearboxes, and you can mix and match to gear for higher top speed.

        • SSurfer321

          Our parents hooked up the car battery for extra run time not extra power. Kept us kids entertained longer.

          spillable acid…where's your sense of adventure

          • OA5599

            Not to question your parents' wisdom, but acid hazards aside, a car battery adds a lot of extra pounds without any offsetting improvements to the power/weight ratio.

            My kid could swap out the batteries in his Power Wheels before he was 4, and he was usually more interested in "wrenching" than he was in running until the batteries drained anyway.

            <img src="http://i44.tinypic.com/34o5uv5.jpg&quot; width=500>

          • SSurfer321

            As children we were smart enough to know not to fuck with car batteries. And we were always under adult supervision.

            It's not like they installed the battery and told us to go race in traffic…

      • As it turns out….

        <img src="http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6099/6371875575_ee09408272.jpg&quot; width="333">

        Two car batteries up front with a switch on the steering wheel to select 12v or 24v operation, two electric motors in the back (one per wheel), and two sets of pedals.

    • How else will obese people get jobs as security guards?

      • The Professor

        A Hovearound?

        • OA5599

          When I was just a few weeks past being in a wheelchair but still needed the disabled parking space, I went with my wife to the warehouse store on what I knew would be a long visit. It was the first and only time I have been in one of those loaner Hoverounds the stores put out so that lazy obese people will shop there, too (they make some of the best customers for bulk food items).

          On one hand, it was kind of awesome to scoot around that warehouse and beep the horn at shoppers who think their shopping cart should be positioned to block as much of the aisle as possible. On the other hand, I knew that people who weren't driving electric scooters in the store probably thought the same thing of me that I think of many others I see: If that person is really so unable to walk, why is he on a borrowed scooter instead of his own?

          • Damn. That didn't even occur to me at the time, but I have no intention of breaking my hip again just to have another opportunity.

        • <img src="http://i.imgur.com/mAKgF.jpg&quot; alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" />

  • SSurfer321

    Moving sidewalk

    <img src="http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01444/travelator_1444173c.jpg"&gt;

    Escalator – I found and rode a 4 riser escalator in DC just for the hilarity of it.

    <img src="http://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j00wvPEKOaLaUuf/Escalators-Cmodel-F-.jpg"&gt;

    • PowerTryp

      I think both of those serve excellent functions without diminishing our "quality" of life to the extent that other technology has.

      Also it reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke "An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience."

      • SSurfer321

        I love that Hedberg joke (RIP).
        I thought I gave a good answer but please elaborate on how/why you feel they both serve excellent function without diminishing quality of life.
        /no snark

        • PowerTryp

          Better late than never.

          Have you ever tryed taking someone in a wheel chair up a set of stairs? The moving walkways were mostly built before wheels on luggage became the norm. Also the only places you generally see them are in large outlet malls and airports. You don't see moving walkways almost anywhere else and no one (save for the insanely rich) has installed escalators in apartment buildings or their home.

          They are used in places to increase mobility but retain functionality should they break down. See Dearthair's comment below for an elaboration on that.

          • SSurfer321

            better late than never.

            I understand the difficulties of moving a wheelchair bound person up a flight of stairs. But that is not the purpose of escalators. ADA dictates that elevators must be installed. Escalators are for lazy people IMHO.

            In response to the moving sidewalks, I stepped on one once in Detroit and immediately stepped off before the beginning of the next one to continue walking myself. Mind you I was traveling light as it was only a weekend trip, but IMHO they are for lazy people.

            These are only a few inventions that contribute to the obesity of the USA.

          • FuzzyPlushroom

            Moving walkways, to me, are simply a way to let you walk at running speed, or run rather faster than you otherwise could, when you need to catch a plane.

    • Deartháir

      I have seen a use for the moving sidewalk that actually made sense. The ones in the Vancouver airport get travelers from one end of the terminal — used for local and short-hop flights — to the other end — used for international flights. I've walked it before. It's a LONG goddamned ways with a heavy bag. The moving sidewalks, assuming you keep walking while you're on them, cut that time down by more than two thirds. The longest stretch would probably take you at least a solid 5 minutes to walk, and on the sidewalk, you get there in probably 20 seconds.

      Of course, anyone just standing there instead of continuing to walk usually gets shoved off unceremoniously. That's just lazy.

  • skitter

    Electric-power sliding doors and liftgates.
    Also, elevators in buildings less than 6 floors.

    • I suspect you don't spend much time moving carts laden with lab equipment. I do. Elevators are more than convenient.

    • OA5599

      I used to live in a highrise dorm that was designed without adequate elevators. At peak times (morning classes and meals), the elevators headed down would fill on the upper floors, and there would be absolutely no space left by the time the elevator got to perhaps the seventh floor. It was usually a waste of time for someone on the lower floors to push the call button, and similarly a waste of time for the passengers who would have to wait for the doors to cycle without anyone getting on or off. For a 9 am class, I generally found it quicker and easier to take 14 flights of stairs than to wait for an elevator with available space.

      One evening, I was on the elevator headed down to dinner. The car stopped on the fifth floor. As the doors began to open, one of the passengers started berating whoever it was who dared to press the call button on such an undeserving floor. His mouth froze and there was an awkward silence when the doors opened wide enough to reveal the offender's white cane…

    • The Professor

      Liftgates? I bet to differ. Try unloading a 500 pound saw off the back of a semi trailer that has a floor five feet off the ground, and there is just you and the driver. No dock, no forklift, no other help. I absolutely love liftgates.

      • Deartháir
        • The Professor

          Oh, well then. Never mind.

        • skitter

          Yes, please apply my previous comment to consumers with groceries, rather than employees with equipment.

          • The Professor

            Sorry about that. My problem is that I'd never seen a powered tailgate like the one in the picture. I guess that I don't get out much.

          • Mr_Biggles

            While I completely agree with you in principle, in defense of my step-monster-in-law, there are some people who can't actually get some of the modern liftgates to close. She is so slim and light that she was able to jump up a few inches to grab the handle on the open liftgate of their previous SUV, but she wasn't heavy enough to overcome the gas struts right away and would kind of dangle there for a while. In summer when the pressure was at its highest, there was the odd time that she couldn't close it at all. I fully agree that the power liftgate designers were targeting lazy fat people and not weak light people, but they have their uses.

      • OA5599

        Unloading is easy. Gravity is your friend in that case.

        • The Professor

          Yes, until the moment the freight hits the ground, then it's your worst enemy.

          /doof 😉

    • tonyola

      Think this through a bit regarding elevators…

      1. There are quite a few people who are elderly or otherwise have problems getting around. Are you going to force them to stay on the bottom floor? Should my 80-year-old mother have to climb three flights of stairs carrying grocery bags just to get to her door?
      2. As others have said, moving carts or handtrucks on stairs is not workable. Also, ever try moving a piano on stairs?

      • skitter

        I think it's a pretty clear distinction that someone who is aged or disabled or carrying a piano is not lazy to take an elevator. On the other hand, an able-bodied person waiting for an elevator ride over two floors mirrors an able-bodied person searching for a "good" parking spot, rather than just screeching into the first one available and walking into the grocery store.

    • The electric sliding doors in our family truckster are one of its most valuable features. My wife is a florist – the automatic feature makes it possible to open the van while keeping both hands on a delicate and pricey arrangement.

      With you on the elevator and parking though.

    • One of the local YMCA's is in a 6 story building, and has an elevator. Each floor has different workout equipment and rooms for Richard Simmons classes. I know that the elevator is there for people who can't walk upstairs but can workout, like the guy I saw the other day who wheeled his manual wheelchair to the weight room to get in some bench press. But seems like usually it is the same guy who just got done grunting loudly and slamming weights around that stands and waits for the elevator to get downstairs from the 4th floor weight room.

      • FЯeeMan

        So, I just gotta ask, does the guy wheelie his chair, then lay back on the bench to do the presses? Cause if so, that would be the most awesome sight in the history of evar!!!!

        • Dude, that would be sweet! But I think he just slid out of the chair in a sitting position. I was trying not to stare. It wasn't the wheelchair thing, it was the 3 foot long dreadlock sack he was tying his hair in. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on.

          He did drag the bench around one handed to get it positioned under the rack, so it wasn't his first workout.

          Is it bad form to ask him to do the wheelie thing if I see him again?

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      My recent favourite: the elevator to the DMV in Manchester, which is on the second story of a two-story building. Well, I suppose it has to be wheelchair-accessible, but I took the stairs out of principle.

  • [youtube Qo-cUZ2aRKc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo-cUZ2aRKc youtube]

    • "We're celebrating shortcuts. That's what we do as a society. But that has concequences…"

    • The Professor

      That is a very important message that Mike Rowe is giving, and very true. I've been bemoaning the general lack of craftmanship in America for ages, and like he says, there just isn't any respect for those types of trades anymore. People don't think that the manual trades have any worth. They forget what built this country.

      • Worse yet, we refuse to pay some of our more esoteric and truly skilled tradesmen what they're worth, so even those who do aspire to those fields can't make a decent career.

        • The Professor

          Ha! Tell me about it. I used to make fine boxes, but now I only do it occasionally for family and sometimes friends. People won't pay even a minimal amount for skilled work. It's very depressing.

          • I briefly toyed with the idea of opening up my own vapor-blasting shop. Then I talked to a couple of guys who'd done it, and it was always the same story — either long hours of gritty, dirty, hot work for not much money, or not enough work coming in if you charge what the service is worth.

          • skitter

            You're competing with the prices for equivalent mass-produced examples. Worse still, I can appreciate the effort it takes to make something from scratch, but even if it's a superior piece, often I'd rather invest my own labor than pay for someone else's.

          • The Professor

            I think that it's great that you like to 'build your own' for certain things. In my eyes, that brings the general level of craftmanship up, regardless of your skill. You'll have made something useful with your own hands, and there is a great amount of satisfaction to be had from that.
            You're dead on about competing with mass-produced articles. It simply can't be done by an individual, regardless of the difference in quality and design.

      • aastrovan

        True that craftsmen are not finding apprentices to pass on accumulated wisdom,and it is then lost forever.

        • The Professor

          Yes, and it is a crying shame.

      • GlassOnion9

        I assume you've read "Shop Class as Soulcraft"?

        If not, I HIGHLY recommend it.

        • The Professor

          No, I hadn't heard of it, but I see that I'll have to pick up a copy. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    • FЯeeMan

      5:42-5:48

      That says it all right there.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Electric driver's side mirror – I get the passenger side one, it would be to hard to reach. Or if it was on the fender, then it would make sense. It was one of the things I really thought was clever about the first gen Aveo. It had the little doodad to adjust the driver's side mirror near the window, but the passenger one was electric.

    • The Professor

      But it's cold when you roll down the window to adjust the mirror….

      • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        Yeah I know, my '67 Volvo you need to open the window. I meant like how it was in my '79 Caprice with the thing that looked like joystick inside near the window. The Aveo had one of those too for the driver's side.

      • How can you legally drive in the first place if the window isn't already down for hand signals?

        • The Professor


          <img src="
          http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g60/leenehlsen/ATHS2004show017.jpg&quot; width="500" border="2" style="border:2px solid black;" alt=" " />

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq
          • Those are cool, but regrettably not legal here. Washington requires that stop and turn signals "shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by signal lamps" so a fake hand won't cut it.

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            Dang so the flags (that are more like sticks) that pop out the sides are not allowed either unless you epoxy human limbs to them or get them to blink I guess.

          • Yup. Here, at least, trafficators must be illuminated (as specified elsewhere, they must flash, too) or be equipped with an actual hand and arm. As the law specifies "the" hand and arm instead of just "a" hand and arm, I imagine an ambitious prosecutor could successfully argue that it had better be one of the driver's limbs affixed to it as well.

      • jeepjeff

        What is this "roll down the window" you speak of? (Mine have zippers, when I have them on at all.)

        • Excellent point. Two of mine have rearward-sliding door windows and another has windows that are only designed to be removed by pushing them out, gaskets and all.

          • jeepjeff

            Awesome. My goal for my next car is no windows, no roof and just a seamless beltline, no doors to speak of.

          • Many jurisdictions require a windshield. With that in mind, how about a Goggomobil Dart?

            <img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5308/5612765013_d421eb3597.jpg&quot; width="400">

          • jeepjeff

            Those are adorable, and I love the jet-age lines on it. I might even be able to pull it off, however, something else has caught hold of my psyche and won't let go:

            <img src="http://i.imgur.com/6P59w.jpg&quot; width=500>

  • GlassOnion9

    We recently installed a wi-fi capable programmable home thermostat. I can now turn up the heat from the couch using my cell phone. Lazy or not, it's awesome.

    • Deartháir

      LAZY.

      /Okay that's actually really awesome. Where do I get my own?

      • GlassOnion9

        I got mine at Home Depot, but you can get it from Amazon as well:

        Filtrete Thermostat

  • OA5599

    I think it's silly that you have to plug in a treadmill. Let the runner generate electricity with it instead.

    <img src="http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/upload/2010/03/the_physics_of_an_inclined_tre/Evo%20EVO2%20Treadmill.jpg&quot; width=500>

    • Deartháir

      That needs to be an animated gif, and I'd be able to watch it for the rest of the night.

      /who am I kidding, I probably could watch it for the rest of the night anyhow.

      //let's find out!

  • Mad_Hungarian

    I see no commentary about the opening illustration, which is one of that class of visions of the future that almost, but not quite, got it right. Mrs. Suburbia seems to be shopping for clothes on some sort of one-to-one interactive TV channel. Kind of like a cross between Home Shopping Network and the chat windows you can open up on many shopping websites.

    Some type of shopping from home via TV or computers was predicted over and over again starting in about the mid 50's. We wanted to shop online for about 40 years before we could. Given that, it really makes you wonder how Sears could have so completely missed the opportunity to leverage the catalog into being the pioneer of online shopping.

    I notice in the background, outside the window, it looks like the kids are walking to school in a torrential downpour. Hey Mom, do you think you could put the mike down for a minute and give them a lift in the Country Squire?

    • Deartháir

      I took it as a video-phone. The 1950's version of Facetime!

      • OA5599

        What I think is more telling than the function is the placement. The picture looks like it is circa 1960. Back then, households usually had one television (if at all) and it was almost always a big piece of furniture in the living room. How did this one end up in the kitchen? Kitchen TVs didn't really come into fashion until the 80's, and kitchen internet caught on only after the move away from dialup around 10 years ago.

  • Froggmann_
    • tiberiusẅisë

      How else are the two of them going to get to Pizza Hut in time for the all you can eat special?

    • I don't buy that, it's fake. Since when does a mattress have a head?

  • Mad_Hungarian

    It's really predicting multitasking!

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