Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Quite literally, I am missing the point here.

Honest to God, I think we all must have too much money again.

I was reading the Continental magazine on my latest trip and came across an article titled Presents of Mind, that offered the perennial "gift ideas for everyone on your list." The point here was that we need to be creative and give gifts that speak to the recipient's interests or character. Yes, who would dispute that?

I doubted that I'd find any real ideas but hey – it’s already about two weeks until Christmas and I’ve purchased exactly two gifts so maybe I needed a push. Maybe there were ideas here after all.

LEGO Container Truck ($69.99) – nope. Fun - especially since it had functional steering and a motor and a linear actuator - but we’ve been out of the Lego world for years now. I don't know what a linear actuator is, anyway.

An Apple Magic Trackpad ($69), which could be a good idea for someone except I read the description twice and I still don’t know what it does. Plus, the description said it requires OS X 10.6.4 or higher. I don’t know what that means.

Some kind of combination light / speakers things ($599) that delivers different songs to different speakers throughout your home: “ a stand-alone transmitter sends audio wirelessly to an LED bulb, which fits into a recessed light fixture…and because you can send signals to different bulbs, you can pump beats into one room while enveloping another in soothing jazz and yet in another….” Whatever. I haven’t figured out how to turn on our stereo at home and we’ve lived there for about eighteen years. Like the Apple product, this description contained many words and phrases I couldn’t define accurately.

A Bugaboo Bee stroller. Finally, something I understand. I’m not in the market for a stroller but even if I were, I can’t imagine spending $600 on anything even remotely connected to transportation that doesn’t also come with a key.

A pretty overnight weekender bag ($240) – maybe. But I really wanted it for myself when I saw it so I’d buy one and want to keep it. Not good.

A diver’s watch – except it cost almost $5,000. Plus, I don’t really know anyone who dives regularly and frequently enough to warrant a watch. Plus, anyone who would wear this without diving is annoying. Plus, this was available from a high-end, used watch dealer, which makes me worry about the diver I never met who wore it last.

Wait a minute – here we go! A croquet set! Lovely! Fun for everyone!! And a rule book, and a history / tactics book. And a handmade, gold-lined winning post. Wait a minute. Here we don’t go: $1,650.

A Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame jacket ($64.99). Nah.

A coffee table book full of gorgeous dessert photography ($29.95). Could be fun for the right person but I don’t have that person on my list. And if I owned it, I’d want to eat dessert even more often than I already do. Nope.

Ah – here we go, yet another item that doesn’t work for my list. Bark’n’Boot Polar Trex. Extra traction booties of some kind for dogs to wear to protect them from ice, rocks, frozen terrain…and salted sidewalks. They’re $89.95 and I couldn’t tell if that was for a set of four Bark’n’Boots or for just the one. No matter. I’m not buying them for any dog I know. And I don’t care how sturdy they are, I guarantee you our Charlie-dog would have chewed them to bits before sunset on Christmas Day if we had ever tried to affix them to his paws.

This isn’t working. I’ve found nothing for anyone on my list. Most of this stuff is too expensive, anyway. Is there nothing for under twenty bucks? Something perfect and fun and quirky and unique?

Hold on. Here you go. And before you read any further, I swear to you I am not making this up. For just $15, Artisanal Pencil Sharpening (yes, you read that correctly) will choose a standard #2 pencil for you – or send them your own! – and craftsman David Rees will sharpen it by hand “to as fine a point as you have ever seen.” He’ll even bag and send the shavings to you; shavings that were “painstakingly removed from the pencil during the sharpening process.”

And please don’t worry about being misled (Get it?? Mis-led?). They’ll stand behind their excellent work and send you “a certificate that attests to the sharpness of your writing implement.”

“ .”

I’m mostly speechless, here. And not to put too fine a point on this (see what I did there?) … but … what? You send this guy, David, a pencil and $15 and he’ll send it back sharpened by hand? Along with the shavings he took off the ‘writing implement?”

Dear God, we are in danger of dying off as a species if we can’t quite manage, nor are we satisfied with, a pencil that hasn't had its tip crafted and shaped by hand by sending it off to

But I’d like to think I’m a glass half full girl. Someone please call the AP and the other wire services. Send press releases to The Economist, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Financial Times and Kiplinger’s. The recession – long rumored to be over – is truly behind us.

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