“This is a clock in an assisted living facility. What’s with the colors and directions?”
Answer: To avoid bedsores, the clock shows how to rotate the patient correctly. The red numbers are the right side, the green ones are the left side, and the black numbers are the back.
“Saw this at a brewery. Some sort of game, maybe?”
Answer: Pachinko machine, a gambling game in Japan. It is something in between a slot machine and a vertical pinball machine.
“What are these circular metal things on these stairs? I just hit my knee and wow did it hurt!”
Answer: It’s just a skateboard prevention device. Keeps them from grinding on the edges.
“What is this random structure I found in the middle of the forest?”
Answer: It’s a World War II one-man bomb shelter.
“Some guy was carrying this on the subway. No clue what this could be.”
Answer: This is a violin case.
“I always see these ‘buildings’ in fields. They never have walls.”
Answer: This is a nesting barn for swallows.
“Cable bundling, wrist band, adult toy?”
Answer: It’s a clip-on shoe light for people who run at night, in order to avoid being run over.
“Found these in the woods while hiking.”
Answer: Those are wads from shotgun shells. They separate the powder and projectiles.
“Found at the bottom of an old chest, any ideas what this is? Looks to be made of copper and brass, pins open out as slider on handle moves. Approximately 7 inches tall and stamped 72 underneath.”
Answer: This is part of an antique sock knitting machine.
“Found this while beach combing on the Olympic Peninsula. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“What is the purpose of this chain?”
Answer: It is a rain chain, an alternative for the traditional downspout of a gutter system.
“Found this amongst some miscellaneous tools, any ideas?”
Answer: It’s a pair of nips for cutting sugar, for back in the old days when sugar came in large cones.
“There’s this strange looking lock behind the driver side door. It looks kind of like one you would see on a vending machine. 1998 Ford Ranger, anybody know what this is for?”
Answer: ATT and other fleets use these to store the keys for the truck. They’re all keyed alike (or in groups). Employees get a key for that, then they can unlock it and it’s a cup that holds the truck keys. It’s cheaper than fleet keying the automobiles.
“Noticed this weird urinal in a brauhaus bathroom in Cologne, Germany.”
Answer: It’s for vomiting.
“Found this small kettle years ago. Tried searching for a similar one, but have always come up with nothing. Anybody have an idea why it has this unique shape? Wallet for scale.”
Answer: It’s a portable men’s urinal for bedbound patients.
“It’s a metal tube with a screw-on cap that I found at a thrift store. It feels like steel, has no words or numbers engraved on it, and has a small hole through the tip of the cap. I thought it might be a necklace to hold ashes, but it seems too long and heavy to be comfortable to wear. Any ideas?”
Answer: An antique needle case.
“What is this big hole that is usually found on milk cartons?
Answer: This is actually a measure to keep the milk contained if its suddenly dropped, or frozen. It makes the cap pop out if these things happen.
“One of the dogs that comes to daycare always has this on her collar. No identifying information or logos. What is this thing?”
Answer: That’s the “key” to a doggy door. When a dog comes to the door, it opens, when it goes away, the door closes.
“Found this in my dad’s room, really hoping it’s not something inappropriate.”
Answer: It goes over shoes to give them grip when walking on ice. It is called a Yakstrax.
“What is this thing that you always see on an escalator?”
Answer: Many people think these are brushes for shoes. But in fact, they help keep shoes, dresses, handbags, etc. from getting snagged in the tiny gap at the side.