We too have toys to bring to the beach
Just like karaoke bars, Will Ferrell movies and tattoo parlors, the problem with going to the beach is there's always someone who's too sober to get into the spirit of things. You want to ditch him but you can't -- he's driving.
Often, Digital Slobs serve as these beach-blanket bummers, due to the fish-out-of-water factor. Direct sunlight interferes with our laptop screens. Foraging sand crabs mess with our peripheral vision and distract us from our PlayStation Portables. And our TiVo remotes have no effect on the sunset whatsoever.
Fortunately, in the Digital Age, new devices like these offer Slobs the same kind of peace with their surroundings that blinders give racehorses:
NuPower Video+ (newertech.com, $50): The current world record for holding a breath underwater is 8 minutes, 58 seconds -- coincidentally, that's also the current record for how long a Digital Slob stripped of all lithium-powered gadgets can sit on a beach before paramedics must intervene.
So, if you must hit the sand and surf with a Slob in tow, make sure not to forget his video iPod with an MP4 of "Pirates of the Caribbean" locked and loaded.
Yet that alone is just a short-term fix. Inevitably, just when Davey Jones' crew of crustaceans gets into the act on the giant 3.5-inch screen and things finally get interesting, it goes dark. Dead. Drained. Done.
Ever try to resuscitate an iPod on the beach? When it comes to public facilities at the seashore, the only thing harder to find than toilet paper is a USB port.
But the good folks at Newer Technology have an answer with their rechargeable battery pack for the video iPod. Once this slim device is, itself, fully charged via the iPod's computer cable, it can hit the road and refuel your MP3 for 80 hours of music or 16 hours of video.
That's 16 episodes of "Ugly Betty," 32 episodes of "The Office" or one episode of "Lost" viewed 16 times, because that's the only way it even begins to make sense.
Floating Cabana (hammacher.com, $300): Secretly, Slobs believe that oceans would be a lot more fun if you just put a giant polyvinyl chloride tarp over all of them, in essence making waterbeds that covered four-fifths of Earth's surface. In our perfect world, massive underwater earthquakes would then create little more than a global amusement-park ride.
But until science catches up with our imagination, Hammacher Schlemmer offers a more personal solution with a canopied inflatable raft that can hold up to 1,020 pounds. That means it can comfortably float six average people La-Z-Boy style -- or roughly four Slobs and their day's supply of various Hostess snack cakes.
The floating cabana comes complete with a round porthole in the middle for quick water exits, an attached boarding platform and a tethered 16-quart cooler for drinks and snacks. It even has four cup holders.
What it really needs, however, is an inflatable alarm clock that will rouse Slobs before the South Equatorial Current takes us halfway to Chile, or at least an inflatable compartment that will keep our passports dry.