Hi-ho, HooToo-ers! Your self-appointed Fashion Geek is back to take a look at what's new and weird in the stores and on-line. So listen up.
The Fine Print
The links below are provided for information purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of the products or services. I am not affiliated with the companies in any way.
Cold Hands, Warm Heart?
Shiver no more. Here is something Santa could use while he's gadding about the skies in an open sleigh: a
Heated Jacket and Gloves Set. If that's not enough to keep him toasty, he can also find Heated Trousers1 and other accessories so that he's warm all over. And if Mrs Claus wants her man to project a more stylish image, this North Face Met5 Jacket is just the thing. (However, there is less room in the Met5 Jacket to pack away all the milk and cookies he'll encounter this holiday season. Ho-ho.)
Heated clothing is perfect for motorcyclists, skiers and others who have to deal with serious cold and wind chills. All of these items employ heating elements that are powered by rechargeable batteries. In their present incarnation, these clothes are somewhat 'high-tech', in that you have to plug them in periodically to keep them charged. But this is such a useful concept for people who live in unusually cold climates or who have trouble regulating their body temperatures, such as the infirm and the elderly, that I hope manufacturers keep refining their designs until they're suitable for the rest of us.
Fashion Geek Rating: A bit pricey, and some people may worry about wrapping themselves in electrical fields. However, it beats freezing to death.
Rise and Shine!
Have trouble waking up in the morning? No time to shower and make yourself a cup of coffee, too? Then Shower Shock's Caffeinated Soap from ThinkGeek.com is just what you need. No, you don't eat it. Your skin absorbs the caffeine while you shower, leaving you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on the world.
Fashion Geek Rating: Go get 'em, tiger!.
The Chic Geek
Now that you're wide awake, it's time to gird your loins and start banging out some awesome code on your wireless laptop. This cool SQL Query T-shirt keeps you comfortable while allowing you to comment on the general cluelessness of your companions2. This is a great gift for the serious computer lover in your life. It's reasonably priced, and he (or she!) would actually wear it.
Fashion Geek Rating: I hope Santa brings me one.
For The Furry Set
Is your dog also a geek? Our friends at ThinkGeek.com have this Humans Are Stupid Dog Shirt made just for him. If he's more the fashion-conscious sort, you can dress him up in Ralph Lauren's sweaters for dogs. Cashmere sweaters, no less. This dog-clothing mania has apparently infected both sides of the Atlantic. Take a look at this elegant Burberry dog coat, one of several Burberry items designed for your pampered pet. (Don't you just hate it when your dog is better dressed than you are?)
Cats, of course, won't stand for such nonsense, as they are already impeccably turned out in their own fur coats.
Fashion Geek Rating: To quote cartoon character Charlie Brown: 'Good grief.'
Gazillions of Gadgets
The big story in holiday gifts over the last several years has been electronic gizmos, and this year will be no different. DVD burners are becoming less expensive and more widely available. Unfortunately the industry hasn't yet settled on a single standard, which means that you need to know what you're about if you're in the market for one of these bad boys. You can check out this guide to DVD formats before you go shopping.
Digital music continues to be a big story. MP3 players such as Apple's iPod are must-have items, and we now have iPods that run the Windows operating system, to the joy of Windows PC owners everywhere. At the same time, the RIAA (Recoding Industry Association of America) has gotten aggressive about protecting copyrighted music and has filed a number of lawsuits against the more egregious file swappers. Fortunately for all of us, Steve Jobs3 had a better idea, and we now have sites such as Apple's iTunes, named one of Time Magazine's coolest inventions for 2003, that allow listeners to download music legally.
Cell phones are fast becoming the one item you can't live without. Many in the US now use their cell phone number as their home phone number, a move made easier by recent legislation that permits cell phone users to keep the same number if they switch carriers. At the same time the phones themselves are adding functionality; you can get a phone, PDA, camera, and whatever in one portable package. However, cell phones do have one major disadvantage, as many discovered during August's massive power outage in the northwest US and Canada: when the power is out, the phones probably won't work because the transmitters run on electricity. Not the sort of thing you want during an emergency.
Hand-held computers are also becoming more complicated. Any PDA worth its name now provides a host of functions in addition to the basic address book, e-mail and calendar. One interesting one is the Garmin iQue 3600, which comes equipped with integrated GPS technology. To date the IQue only provides maps for North America, a limitation I don't expect to last long. GPS navigation systems are also available as add-ons to many brands of PDAs. These systems, considered high-end just a few years ago, are fast becoming mainstream technology.
Those who depend on their electronic gewgaws need to be prepared. Presenting the Swiss army knife for the geek crowd: the Swiss Army Cybertool 41! The Cybertool comes with a variety of screwdrivers, Hex sockets, and DIP switch setters in addition to the usual pen, knife, tweezers, and whatnot. It even comes with a corkscrew in case you need to open an emergency bottle of wine. That's civilized, that is. You can find this and other items at the Victorinox Web site.
Fashion Geek Rating: 'You can never be too good-looking or too well-equipped.' - Dilbert
Money Is No Object
Too tired to answer the door, haul the groceries into the house, or take a message for another family member? Got an extra $400,000 you don't know what to do with? Well, here's your answer: His and Hers Robots! These adult-sized robots come with pre-programmed instructions, which you can modify to suit you. The price includes 'training for the human', according to the Neiman-Marcus site.
I think it would be easier to just answer the door myself.
If you think these are impressive, check out ASIMO, a humanoid robot that is being developed by Honda. The future is now, and it's looking amazing.
As far as I know, no one is currently trying to create a robotic clown.
Fashion Geek Rating: Robots are cool, but the price tag smacks of conspicuous consumption, which is so 1980s. On the other hand, they'd sure give your nosy neighbours a turn.
Are you living with someone who thinks he knows it all? Show him otherwise with a gift subscription to the Dr Science E-Mail List ('I have a Master's Degree in Science!') Just go to the Dr Science Gift Subscription page, fill in the information, and click the button to give your victim - er, gift recipient - a dose of puzzling questions, dubious science, pedantry and humour, delivered fresh to his e-mail in-box each Monday through Friday.
Fashion Geek Rating: It's fun and it's free.
Sick of all the holiday hoopla? Think the twelve days of Christmas are about eleven days too many? Then Dr Demento's Novelty Christmas CDs are just what you need. 'Dr. Demento Presents: Greatest Christmas Novelty CD' and 'Holiday in Dementia' contain such wonderful songs as 'Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer', 'The Chipmunk Song', 'Rusty Chevrolet' and 'The Twelve Pains of Christmas' -- they'll put a smile on your face faster than you can say 'fruitcake'!
Fashion Geek Rating: Bah, humbug, y'all.
Assorted Glad Tidings
Life these days has a way of making us feel unloved, unappreciated, and downright harassed, and often the holidays are just more of the same. I say it's time for the universe to straighten up and fly right. However, the universe seldom pays much attention to what I say, and when it does it generally snickers. So it's up to us to create the world we want. Here's what Christmas is like on Planet Quizzical:
- Holiday foods contain no calories, so that you can indulge and face the new year smug and svelte.
- Some assembly is not required.
- Batteries are not sold separately.
- Children don't get tired and whiny.
- Your in-laws think you're wonderful and they love the presents you give them.
- And vice versa.
- Your mother doesn't comment on your weight, your hairstyle, or your choice of significant other.
- The cat doesn't eat the tinsel off the tree.
- People understand that you don't make the world a better place by blowing things up.
- We all get to experience a bit of peace on earth, even if it's just a few moments to sit down and do nothing.
One can always hope.
May everyone have a safe and happy Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa-solstice-holiday-of-your-choice!