What were we thinking?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house (still), work in the same office (again) and somehow manage to cling to their sanity (barely). Older and wiser (she's wiser, he's just older), the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives.

He said: Note to self: Never buy another light fixture that requires a suction cup to change the bulb.

Last winter, Callie and I bought two snazzy halogen light fixtures as part of a present to my mother -- a makeover of her downstairs family room. It turned out that Mom only needed one such light, so we brought the other one home and I installed it in our hallway. The light was easy to install, even for me, but the directions required me to use a suction cup to hold the bulb while twisting the two-pronged end into the socket. The light required three bulbs. It didn't take long for the lights to burn out, and finally, after months of darkness in the hallway, I purchased the bulbs and went to change them this week. Much to my dismay, the suction cup no longer worked. Pliers wouldn't fit in there, neither would salad tongs. Callie tried, too, which goes to show it takes more than two Millers to change a light bulb. I still haven't figured out how to get the stupid bulbs out. We nearly decided this was our very worst purchase ever when we remembered ...

10. The Mattress Pad.

Purchased a few months ago for Callie's ailing back, we thought a 2-inch layer of foam might help. It didn't. Made the pain worse, in fact. Eighty bucks now rolled up in a large garbage bag in the basement.

9. The Ear Thermometer.

This was bound to be a marvel of health-care invention, we thought. After purchasing the $25 digital thermometer, we discovered the temperature setting is so finicky we can only use it in one room, or we get an error message. And most of the time, the temperature reading never changes. It just stays at 95.5, no matter who uses the thermometer.

8. The Bathroom Vanity.

Found a good deal on clearance. Thought we might use it for a remodel project sometime. One week later, Callie decided to go another direction. Seventy-five bucks for a topless cabinet I'll probably use in my workshop in the basement.

7. The Couch.

We needed the couch. Springs were springing in the others. But we got suckered in to the "stain-free" fancy fiber. What a load of bull. The off-white sectional now has more spots than a leopard with chicken pox. $1,200 on a couch we use a lot, but if we had the money for a new couch, the current one would go to the basement.

6. The Back Massager.

Another back-healing experiment gone bad. It vibrates just fine, but it's hardly relaxing. Eighty bucks for a device that sits next to a recliner, gathering dust. It's cluttering the living room. Basement-bound pretty soon.

She said: 5. The Laptop.

This is a biggee. For a year, Bob longingly listed the benefits of owning a laptop computer. So we bought one. A couple of months later, he went to Boston on a business trip, decided to check the laptop with his other luggage and let's just say the baggage handlers weren't kind to it. The laptop never worked again -- bye-bye $650.

4. The Pitching Machine.

This one was Bob's fault. He can't throw worth a darn anymore and thought a pitching machine would be just the thing to help Drew with batting practice. We bought a pitching machine off the Internet for about $200. We took it out three times. It worked once, and it didn't work well when it did work. Where's it now? You guessed it: the basement.

3. The Paint Sprayer.

After the first use (painting the basement), we were touting it as the best home-improvement invention of all time. What a time saver! It worked the second time, too, after lots of tedious cleaning. Then it broke. Then Bob lost the stupid thing before we could return it to the store. We think it got thrown away with a bunch of junk. What a waste of $100.

He said: 2. The Xyron 500.

This is a sticker/magnet doodad Callie wanted for a birthday present. I offered to buy her an iPod, because she's such a big fan of music. But, no, she insisted that this crafty sticker-maker was the perfect complement to all of her scrapbooking supplies. Turns out, I know my cute and talented wife better than she knows herself. She used the Xyron 500 once. Didn't care for it. $50 toward magnets that were never made. She got an MP3 player for Christmas. And the Xyron 500? Couldn't even sell it in a yard sale.

1. The Trunk.

It was hideous. A big, scrappy antique-looking thing. We needed storage. I was caught at a weak moment. That thing became an eyesore for way too long in our living room. We even painted it twice before I finally sent it downstairs. Thirty-two dollars I'll never see again. But we passed it along to another unfortunate soul at a garage sale. We obviously need to have another one. Our basement's getting stocked with junk again. Anyone interested in a light fixture with burned-out bulbs?

Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor. In his spare time, you'll find him hauling junk down to the basement. Callie Clark Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor of online/special publications. She has a long list of stuff she wishes she'd bought with the $2,412 wasted on the above purchases. Including a hall light that works. You can reach them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com.

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