"What are these metal things we’ve had in our house for years?"
A: "They’re andirons
or sometimes called fire dogs. They are used for storing logs for the fireplace and are often quite valuable."
"My dentist gave this to me after a checkup. How do I use… whatever this is?"
A: "It’s a toothpaste squeezer. You put it on the end of your toothpaste tube and slowly move it up the tube to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out."
"I’m at a resort in Cancun and these are underwater at the end of a pier! What are these?"
A: "These are big molehill-style blocks in the water which were put there in hopes that they’d turn into a beautiful reef. Apparently they’re called reef balls."
"Got this as a prize in a Christmas cracker with no instructions, just a few sharp hooks?"
A: "It’s a needle threader."
"House on my running route, partially sunken into the ground"
A: "It is an earth-sheltered home that might have been built during the energy crisis. This type of construction helps maintain a constant temperature and keeps costs down when it comes to heating and cooling the building."
"My mother-in-law has had this thing for years and no one in the family can figure out what it is. Looks like it was mounted on the wall or something at one point. Any ideas?"
A: "It’s an old Parker’s Foundation Fastener. Beekeepers get the bees started by putting starter wax into the frames so they have something to work with, and the bees draw it out into honeycomb. This starter wax is called the foundation, and that tool is for spreading it."
"I deep fried some spring rolls last night and a few splashes of oil landed on my electric stove. Found these weird organic patterns the next day. Any idea where they come from?"
A: "Tiny flying bugs, or flies becoming trapped, then crawling around, trailing oil…"
"Heavy metal cubes on the end of the chain with different shapes on each side of the cubes. AA battery for scale."
A: "That’s Han Solo’s lucky dice."
"Found in a kitchen drawer, no idea what it might be."
A: "That’s a device for eating spaghetti."
"Small plastic figurines found buried in the backyard. 1” mustachioed bald men with hands on their head, printed with arrows."
A: "Hasbro produced a Monopoly mini-game in 2009 called Monopoly: Get Out Of Jail. A “broad arrow” design used to be standard on UK prison wear, indicating that even the convict’s very clothing was the “queen’s property.” This arrow design, however, isn’t the standard UK symbol. These figurines are from this game."
"Found this in Grandpas box of old things. Might be from Asia because of the 3rd eye? Any ideas?"
A: "This was part of a set of toys that came with malted milk. Very cool, but not very exotic."
"Weird metal worm squiggle, found in the kitchen. What is this thing?!"
A: "It’s a type of cookbook bookmark that is used to keep a certain page open when it’s standing up."
"Can be used for woodworking, been in my family garage for years. Is it a type of nut? Or something more profound?"
A: "It’s a banksia pod
. You can make a whistle out of it."
"I got a bag containing 6 of these from China. I have no idea why! What are they?"
A: "That’s a Rose of Jericho
. It’s transported dry. You need to put it in a bowl with water to “resurrect” it."
"Found washed up dead on a beach in Crete?"
A: "Fangtooth moray eel
"What’s the point of the ‘gargling fountain’ on the right? Seen at the Ocean Expo Park in Okinawa."
A: "The blue one reads “ice water dispenser” and the red reads “gargle fluid.” It’s pretty common for the Japanese to rinse and spit when they get a “thick” or unpleasant feeling in their mouth. Since the red is marked “fluid” and not water, it’s possible that there’s heavy fluoride or some other chemical added."
"Neither inspector nor electrician knows what this 1940s wall device is… but it goes to 11!"
A: "That’s a Honeywell Time-O-Stat, which are actually thermostats that cut the heat off when the countdown timer runs out. It helps to save on costs for heating."
"Ok, I know it’s a chair, but what’s with the extended arms?"
A: "It looks like a plantation/planters chair. You’d put your sore swollen legs up on the arms after sitting on a horse all day, like a pregnant woman with her legs up in the same fashion. This is why the back is so sloped as well. If you sit up straight it wouldn’t be comfortable to put your legs up like that, but in a reclined position it’s good for blood flow and air flow."
"My friend found this scaffold-like structure on a trip. There was a paintball/airsoft field and a hotel nearby, but I’m confused about the purpose of this. Located in Czechia, Europe"
A: "it is a 3D maze. Used in kid’s camp or other outdoor activity clubs (Paintball, Airsoft, Trekking, etc.)"
"I found this metal object. No text or numbers. Can open to be the size of a bracelet."
A: "It’s the top (closure part) of a purse or small handbag."
"Found this in my checked luggage after a flight. Have no idea what it is and I’m assuming it was left in there by TSA? Help!"
A: "It is used for wiping detection swabs over luggage or hands to detect bombs. Airport security puts a swab on the end, rubs it over the luggage, and then scans it."