Thursday, February 09, 2012

Stone strainer

Recently, Dutch science writer Maarten Keulemans had a little medical issue. And it happened to involve a serious case of unintended use. This is his story:

'See that tiny little black speck, sitting cosily in this tea strainer? It’s tiny alright – but still, the speck has stopped armies, disrupted careers and turned mighty men into weeping little babies.
It’s a little chunk of a mineral called struvite. Or rather, it’s a small kidney stone. This particular one happened to be residing in, well, my kidney.
No harm done, stones like these usually pop out by themselves. But before doing so, they have to find their way out, tentatively looking for the exit in the plumbings of your urinary tract. This hurts. This really hurts, as I experienced last night.
Many great men and minds have cried, prayed and begged for mercy in the face of this inconvenience. Epicurus, Newton and Michelangelo had stones; Alfred Hitchcock, John McCain, Billy Joel and many others had them too.
In fact, stones were what Martin Luther and John Calvin had in common, and what united Louix XIV and Napoleon. ‘Renal colic pain’ brought to their knees even Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and James Bond (Roger Moore).
‘I am at grips with the worst of all maladies’, penned down Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne in utter despair. ‘The most sudden, the most painful, and the most irremediable of all.’
Of course, once it comes out, you might want to look the enemy in the eye, if only to mock at it. And that’s where, for obvious purposes, the tea strainer comes in. It’s a standard procedure really, a hospital recommendation. I know of at least one prominent person who applied a tea strainer to this end (don’t worry K., your embarrassing little secret is safe with me).
In Dutch, there’s a proverb: when you’re really exhausted, that’s when you ‘meet the man with the hammer’.
Well, that’s nothing. Just wait until the man with the tea strainer drops by.'

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Like us. On Facebook!

Yes, this is the curator speaking. Really! He is still alive, thank you, and he thought it was a pity that so many examples of unintended use pass without people really noticing. So he thought it would be good to start a Facebook page for the Museum. Find it here! (Don't forget to Like us!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Museum is temporarily (?) closed

The maintenance of the Museum of Unintended Use takes a lot of time. Time the curator doesn't really have anymore. Books have to be written, dishes to be cooked, kids to be raised and muscles to be trained. So the curator decided not to put new pieces of unintended use on display anymore. Feel free to look around, though. There are lots of very nice old things to see. And if you still want to share your examples of unintended use, please send them to the curator. He might change his mind within a few months. Cheers!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Phone scarf

No picture, just a sketch. 'Muslim lady in train in front of me makes functional use of her head scarf', wrote Justus Bruns when posting it on Twitter. Brilliant.

Friday, January 07, 2011


When Petra van der Heijden visited her dentist in Haarlem, the Netherlands, she noticed this smart way to keep the door unlocked. (Which makes this the first unintended use of clothespins in the Museum so far. There must be more, right? Let us know!)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Childhood nutcracker

'During these long and cold evenings', Marieke Peelen from the Netherlands wrote, 'I love to crack and eat fresh nuts. I like them all: hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and of course almonds. However, a large almond can cause a lot of frustration being one of the toughest nuts to crack. Then I remember that during childhood, my brother and I used to crack all our nuts in the shed with my fathers vise. This ones works just as well (maybe even better, because I don't have to go the cold shed).'

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Paper roller (2)

O, and by the way, Danny Gijsberts also uses the paint roller in his artist's studio, as you can see here. And in his kitchen, for making shopping lists.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Paper roller

The best ideas pop up at the same time at different places. That's what the curator thought when he received this nice toilet paper solution, sent in by Danny Gijsbers from the Netherlands. Wasn't there something like this in the Museum's collection already? He started looking. And yes, somewhere in the depots he found this kitchen roller! And if you don't like this 'design', you might like to check this out. Have other unintended uses concerning toilet paper? Send them in!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hairy kloot

'I was on a birthday party', Francine from Utrecht wrote in an e-mail to the curator, 'and we were playing the ancient Dutch game of klootschieten. As we were playing close to a lake, we decided not to use the original balls, but coconuts. So it wouldn't be a problem if one of the balls ended up in the water.'

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pencil blues

Apparently this guy, Swedish teenage YouTube-star Ulrik Munther, didn't have a capo or didn't feel like getting it. Instead, he used a pencil, which is - at least according to the Museum's standards - a much better solution. (By the way, a capo is 'a clamp-like device used on the neck of a stringed instrument to shorten the strings, hence raising the pitch.') If you know of other capo tricks, let us know! (Thanks to Frank Kockelkoren for bringing this video to our attention)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cardboard cupboard

Designed and built and used by Mike Verbruggen, who, apparently, likes to wear T-shirts, spray his armpits with Axe and read Tolstoj novels (that must be hidden behind the stack of T-shirts).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wartime beer opener

'In 2003 I was on an assignment for La Prensa in Waspan Nicaragua', photographer Ryan Conaty said on C.J. Chivers' website. 'A representative from the World Bank was there to talk to folks about their goat herding. Some soldiers had been sent along to keep an eye on him and when he was done with his presentation they were to give us a ride to our next stop. In preparation for the long ride over dirt roads we packed a cooler of beer but we’d forgotten a bottle opener. As we tried to figure out a solution one of the solders (who’d clearly encountered the problem before) realized our situation, picked up his rifle and called us over. I’ve attached the picture I took of our savior with his AK in action.' (Thanks to Ryan for the permission to use this picture)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Big guitar

The curator doesn't know a lot about music, but he knows you normally don't play the cello like Ernst Reijseger did during his 2008 concert with Harmen Fraanje and Mola Sylla in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Nevertheless, it sounds beautiful! (Thanks to Marlies Swinkels for bringing this to our attention!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pepperspray steak

A couple of years ago, the curator decided to taste peach shampoo. It didn't taste like peach. Today he was reminded of this uneventful event when reading a fascinating question on Twitter, posed by John Bosma: could you use pepperspray for preparing your dinner? Do we have museum visitors who experimented with that? Let us know!

Sports cycles

(Found here.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fun with a bottle

Is this a new game for the elderly in Eastern Europe? Is this a former circus employee without a pension doing tricks to make some money? Or is it Photoshop? It is definitely unintended use of bottles... (Picture found here.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's official: this is the best unintended use of 2010!

We have a winner! In the last couple of weeks over 200 people voted for the Whipping Pope Award (and the curator heard rumours that even the pope himself voted). So what was the best example of Unintended use of 2010? Well, it's the plunger used as iPad stand! It received almost a third of the votes. Second place was for this brilliant bagel transport mechanism, third place goes to the lovely prof. Chairman. Find all results right here. Thanks for voting!
UPDATE: It is still unknown who was the 'inventor' of the iPad plunger. If you have an idea, let us know!

Unintended Muse

No, the curator didn't see examples of unintended use in this video. It's just that he stumbled upon this song so many times when searching for unintended use, that he decided to purchase it for the Museum's music collection. The song is called Unintended. The band Muse. That's why, nothing more. (Original & very much nicer video is here, but the curator didn't manage to embed it...)