There's something about summer that causes retailers to inundate us with seemingly worthless gift items in the stores. These are things that manufacturers surely recognized as being lost investments, and opted to unload them on retailers at price levels so cheap they felt tempted to gamble by procuring and placing them on their shelves with the notion that we, the mindless consumers, would see the near-giveaway prices and buy them.

The only logical reason anyone would purchase these items would be for the intent of regifting them. You may recall from reading my columns that I'm diametrically opposed to political correctness, so the notion of buying a gift for the sole purpose of regifting it appeals to my "do whatever it takes to make it through the summer heat" mindset.

Seriously, a worthless summer gift is perfect for passing along to a friend who's presumably owed a payback for a similar exploit played on me. I suppose the politically correct way to view it is simply a matter of economics: purchasing a valueless gift is supporting a retailer during this challenging sales environment. Here are the top 10 most worthless items I found on the shelves this summer, and a surprise treat for a number of readers.

• Synthetic antlers for your automobile. If your transportation would be enhanced by adorning it with a set of these pointy horns, then you're spending too much time in the heat.

• A solar powered hair laser system. Nearly anything suggesting environmental friendliness is desirable these days, and as much as I'd like to believe this contraption could generate some new hair sprouts on my head, this machine is off the logic chart. Odds are the only thing it would create for me would be second-degree burns.

• A marshmallow shooter. This one was a tough call. I could see myself getting some mileage out of it around the house and the neighborhood, and with a 20 shot load it had great potential. But I'd overlooked one critical factor in my raison d'être — my wife.

• Stainless steel wallet. According to the fine print on the packaging, it's made from stainless steel threads that are three times thinner than a piece of paper. Not only does it up your ante for getting butt-zapped with a lightning bolt during a monsoon storm, airport security will love it.

• 55+ miles per hour umbrella. Apparently, there are people stupid enough to not only test this thing, but also willing to endure a wind speed exceeding that of a tropical storm. This would be a perfect companion for the metal wallet.

• Life size "Big Foot" yard sculpture. If you're searching for ways to keep the neighbors and people in general out of your yard and away from your home, this should get the job done.

• Personal passenger seat office. And we thought simple cell phone texting was dangerous. This device just plugs into the cigarette lighter and offers a series of USB connection ports allowing you to set up a mobile office. You can drive while talking on the phone, typing on your laptop, sending faxes, and making copies. In fairness, it does suggest being secured by a seatbelt.

• Chiming mailbox. This annoyance begins chiming and flashing a bright red light mounted on top of your mailbox the minute the door on your mail receptacle closes signaling a delivery has been made. The signal reaches 450 feet away so you can annoy all immediate neighbors.

• Eight-inch cupcake pan. Hardly a week goes by that we aren't reminded about how fat we're becoming, and now some genius has figured out a way to make sugary treats even more lethal by more than doubling them in size and potential calories.

• The Slanket. Forget that TV Snuggie, this one is made from genuine synthetic material at twice the price.

Surprise treat: Several years ago I wrote a column mentioning a Pencorder, a combination pen and digital voice recorder. Since that time I've had inquiries regarding where one of them might be purchased. I found it; it's called a Spy Pen. It writes, records voice messages, has a tiny camera, and a video recorder. Google Spy Pen for details.

My next mission is monitoring manufacturers for hints about totally useless gifts for the winter holiday season. To date, they've never failed me.

Enjoy the summer, and keep those e-mails coming.

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