Take a tank to the slob on your list
When it comes to holiday gifts, Respectable People like to say it's the thought the counts -- what they often really mean is it's the footwork that counts.
But with a broadband connection and at least one credit card in stable condition, a Digital Slob can check off a gift list faster than you can say "Amazon 1-Click." For this reason, we get flak for not being in the spirit of things, just because we don't mull around in the mall until we lose all feeling in our calves.
Don't let them get to you. Download an mp3 of "White Christmas" and put it on a loop while ordering these items complete with gift wrapping:
Palmsize Battle Tanks (thinkgeek.com, two for $40): Over the last few years, tiny remote-controlled devices have become the hot new stocking-stuffer tradition. This year, dragonfly-sized helicopters are flying off the shelves -- shortly before they all flail into death spirals and crash into a baseboard.
I'm not sure what kind of aerial savant you have to be to fly one of these things, but I defy anyone in either the space shuttle program or the Blue Angels to get one of these R/C helicopters more than an inch and a half off the ground before it loses its five-minute battery charge.
But these mini tanks are something different. Find a worthy opponent, and together you can struggle to vicariously dominate the high ground over by the fax machine. These detailed replicas sport sophisticated "laser tag" style fighting capabilities, and even recoil when you pull the trigger. Direct-hit your adversary's itty bitty armored vehicle with enough infrared ordnance, and you can eventually remote-control his tank as well.
Turn left, right, go backward, forward, aim, shoot. Let gravity handle the whole up-down part -- trust me, it's more fun that way.
Whatever Clock (uncommongoods.com, $25): Slobs couldn't care less what time it is, so get them a wall clock that agrees with them wholeheartedly. This simple, square, white timepiece with a black trim has normal hour, minute and second hands, but the numbers have fallen down and to the left -- due obviously to neglect.
If that visual message is a bit too subtle, then the word "Whatever" printed above the hands will leave no doubt about a key Slob core belief -- life is too short to waste any time keeping track of how short it is.
Ambient Forecasting Umbrella (uncrate.com, $100): In many major cities there are literally hundreds of thousands of umbrellas, yet when it rains, it seems only 15 or 16 ready are ready for frontline deployment. Wouldn't it be great if there was an umbrella that could tell you when it was going to rain, the same way Frodo's sword warned him when orcs were approaching in "Lord of the Rings"?
Well, this sturdy drizzle deflector does just that via a wireless (of course) receiver to Accuweather.com. Blue lights on the handle flash when the forecast dictates, and even increase blinking intervals depending on how wet it's likely to get. Now, if we could only get an umbrella that also squeals like a hungry baby condor when we're about to leave it on the bus.
Next week: More gadget gift ideas.