Gifts from a Grinch

2007-12-18 00:00

Despite last year’s resolutions to get it done by October, December has come and the dreaded, exhausting, stressful and expensive Christmas shopping expedition has not yet happened.

Malls are designed to provoke us into the service of the retail gods. At Christmas acres of malls are filled with dissonant and unmelodic sounds of hyped children and hypoglycemic adults. We are crammed together, unable to walk in a straight line and we are bombarded by noisy Wii and play station sales people. I find them unpleasant.

For Gadget Guy, the result is the same: high stress levels, tired feet, a pounding headache and a car load of frivolous, bland, randomly selected items packaged in too much plastic. In the end I have a maxed-out credit card and a less-than-festive mood.

This year Gadget Guy intends to avoid all that. This year Christmas presents will be transmitted from Gadget Guy’s keyboard to Santa’s workshop. They will then tumble down suburban chimneys into the hands of happy, smiling relatives all over the world, probably just after Christmas (partly because Santa was delayed by a traffic jam in a mall parking lot).

Internet shopping. Nothing better. The credit card will still be maxed-out, but my karma will not have been run over by any retailer’s dogma. Here are some suggestions.

The T-Qualizer

Being the silly season, here’s a gift for party animals (Gadget Guy is more of a party plant). The T-Qualizer is a T-shirt with a built-in sound-sensitive graphic equaliser panel. As the music beats, the shirt’s equaliser lights up to the beat of the music. Perfect for clubbing. (

Weather station

Gadget Guy has noticed that for some reason, middle-aged and older men become increasingly obsessed with the weather as they age. It may have something to do with the desire for predictability and routine as our brains slowly fossilise. Maybe men do not age with dignity, we simply get dorky.

The Oregon Scientific Mirror Weather Station is a mirror. But behind the glass is a computerised weather station which gives you 12 to 24-hour weather forecasts and indoor and outdoor temperatures via a remote sensor which is wirelessly linked to the mirror. It also has little graphic weather icons. So while you comb what remains of your hair, you can decide whether or not to wear a hat. (


The Gadget household recently decided to do its bit for the planet and start recycling. Actually, Gadget Girl decided. We lesser gadgets simply obeyed. The exercise took a bit of organising since plastics, metals, paper, glass and organic waste must all be separated.

We got four collapsible crates and labelled them. These sit side by side in the pantry and each week are carted off to a recycling centre. Getting the right stuff in the right crate took a little re-orientation, but now that we are green the system is surprisingly effortless.

Can Crusher

What occupies a lot of space are the cans, and that bin requires frequent emptying. The solution is clearly the Can Crusher. This is a simple but effective wall-mounted device which you can locate over your metal crate or bin. Just place your empty can on the crusher shelf and pull down the handle. The can is crushed to about one fifth of its original size, and drops neatly into the bin. (www.iwantoneofthose.-com/can-crusher)

Counter top organic waste bin

Organic waste is messy and smelly, and usually has an unpleasant texture. You really don’t want too much of this hanging around your kitchen for too long. You need a neat, clean and efficient collection and disposal system. The solution is a hole cut in your counter top near where you do most of your prep work. Simply sweep your vegetable peels and organic waste off the counter and into the recessed pail. The stainless steel lid is flush with the surface so you don’t lose any valuable real estate. When it’s full, simply draw the pail out and dump the contents on your compost heap. There are lots of undercounter bins available, but this countertop bin for organic waste is a neat and elegant solution. (www.thebincompany.-com/kitchen_bin)

What is amazing is that the Gadget trash awaiting municipal removal every week has been reduced from about five bulging bin bags to about half of one bag. That’s a lot of crap.

Happy Christmas. And next year, start recycling.

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