Gifts from the 9 of hearts

(Disclaimer: Why is there a cat staring at a dove on my 9 of hearts?  Beats me.)

A number of people have come up to me recently and asked, “John, what should I get my loved one for Valentine’s Day?” (Disclaimer: I checked with a mathematician friend of mine, and zero (0) is a number.)   And I always respond “Why are you asking me?  She’s your loved one.  I can barely stand to be in the same room with her!”

So this year, I went to my good friends at Hammacher-Schlemmer for some holiday gift ideas.  (Disclaimer: I am good friends with neither Mr. Hammacher nor Mr. Schlemmer.  Based on the fact that I constantly mock their products and refuse to endorse them, I’m probably banned from their store.  If they even have a store.)  So here are my top 9 Valentine’s Day gift ideas.  (Disclaimer: It appears that 9 is no longer a number, but has been demoted to ‘dwarf number’ status.  Please plan accordingly.)

(Disclaimer: These gift ideas are primarily for Him.  For Her, I don’t know.  There’s a reason I’m single.  Get her flowers, I guess.  Girls like flowers.  And maybe tell her she looks 23.  Just don’t get her any of this crap, particularly if you want her to stay around.) *

shearling moccasins

Mongolian Shearling Moccasins – $79.95

These hand-sewn indoor/outdoor moccasins are made from the coats of sheep that roam the indoor/outdoor steppes of Mongolia.  The leather uppers’ abrasion resistance provides years of wear, in case you have to walk on the tops of your feet for years.  An EVA midsole cushions the foot during extravehicular activities such as repairing heat tiles and orbital thrusters, and the sheepskin insole can be removed when a more uncomfortable moccasin is desired.  The moccasins have a waterproof thermoplastic rubber sole, keeping feet soft as a Mongolian sheep’s hoof.

himalayan singing bowl

Authentic Himalayan Singing Bowl   $199.95

Used since 560 B.C. to invoke a deep state of relaxation, meditation, and chicken soup, this is the authentic Tibetan singing bowl.  (Disclaimer: Bowl does not sing, and may not actually be from Tibet.)  The bowl is hand-hammered by a guy with a hammer in his hand from gold, silver, spare change, recycled beer cans, and stuff we found on a beach outside Kathmandu with our metal detector, ensuring every bowl is at least partially Himalayan.  Etched on the side of the bowl is “Om mani padme hum,” a Buddhist mantra which probably means, “Almost done polishing your nails, Queen Amidala.  I’ll just sing quietly to myself while I finish.”  Running the wooden striker along the rim creates complex, harmonic tones with subtle variations that differ from singing in almost every way.  Tapping the bowl with the striker generates a bell sound that signifies that your host is about to invite the Dalai Lama to say a few words.

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Can anybody really know what time it is?

(Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement.  As I said last winter, I wouldn’t buy this stuff with money I found in the street.  Your money may vary.)

After my recent misadventure with the time-space continuum, I started wondering whether there was any sort of device I could use to help me navigate these trying times.  Fortunately, there’s help.  My good friends at Hammacher-Schlemmer have been sending me e-mail offers since 2013, so I know there’s a world of gift ideas for the time-challenged among us.  With that in mind, I offer the following gift ideas from the H-S Temporal Obfuscation catalog, home of the original Faceless Watch (above).

WATCHES

The-Classic-Calculator-Keypad-Watch

The Classic Calculator Keypad Watch  $59.99

Simply press any key, and white LEDs behind the corresponding numbers will illuminate, in order to show the hour and minute.  0-6-4-5, for example, means 6:45, or 6:54, or 4:56, or maybe 5:46.  Pressing the pound sign reveals the month and day using the same method.  1-2-3, for example, means January 23rd, or possibly December 3rd.  Its chunky plastic keycaps recall the ugly design of the world’s first handheld calculator, while the order of the numbers mirrors the layout of IBM’s seminal Model M keypad, which didn’t have a pound sign, because it wasn’t a telephone.  The links in the silicone strap resemble a chain of space bars (Quark’s, Ten-Forward, the Cantina from Star Wars, etc.), unless you look at them, or are familiar with bars in space.

tick mark watch

The Tick Mark Wristwatch  $99.95

This wristwatch has 28 LEDs that illuminate in sequence to indicate the time, date, and day of the week in some weird form of digital cuneiform that linguists have been unable to translate.  Two vertical rows of blue LEDs match with numbers etched into the watch face, which would make the LEDs superfluous if the etched numbers could be seen without a microscope (not included).  As the time elapses, the corresponding LEDs illuminate to create an ever-changing display of meaningless tick marks.  (10:15 is shown above, according to UFO crackpots who believe ancient aliens built the Pyramids using base-28 math.)

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Killing one bird with one stone

Hey, have you heard? James Taylor is going to buy wife Carly Simon a mockingbird. Yep, a mockingbird. Not a turtledove, not a French hen, not even a stinkin’ partridge. Heck, even a canary would be helpful next time the missus heads into a coal mine. But a mockingbird? What is he thinking?

Wait… she seems unusually excited about this gift. I wonder why?

Oh, if the mockingbird doesn’t sing, she gets a diamond ring as a consolation prize. No wonder she’s thrilled! I give it three days (maybe less) before this bird is pining for the fjords, if you catch my meaning.

But be warned, Jim, if you don’t get an especially shiny diamond ring, Carly’s going to be heartbroken. I suggest you take her with you to the jeweler and let her pick out her own ring. After all, you clearly don’t have any idea what kind of gifts your wife would appreciate, and your last screw-up cost an innocent mockingbird its life. Next time, don’t let her know about the backup plan! She might have been satisfied with the bird.

And Carly, for Pete’s sake, make a list next year!