Now that Fathers' Day has come and gone, you might imagine Dads have plenty to be thankful for. Of course, you would be wrong.
Look around you, Mr. Man-Of-The-House: Were you truly wined and dined on our "very special day"? Did you even dominate the TV remote control on that sacred occasion: the holiday celebrating filial and uxorial love? Not in my house, that's for sure!
Shakespeare observed: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" Clarence Darrow, on the other hand, may have gone too far: "The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children."
The lesson here is that if your thankless kids and spouse failed to get you what you wanted for Fathers' Day, get it yourself.
There comes a time when man must cast aside his childish toys - to replace them with much better ones. Here are a couple of excellent post-Fathers' Day gifts:
Vurtego Pogo Stick
If you had a pogo stick, as a kid, but found bouncing up and down kind of dull, the Vurtego is a quantum leap. This is the most extreme pogo stick ever made; an experience not for the faint-of-heart. Unlike the spring-toys you knew decades ago, father and son team Bruce and Brian Spencer created this pneumatically driven unit. Pressurized using a standard air pump, once you calibrate the stick, you're in for a heck of a bounce.
This pogo is ultra-light (under 10 pounds) and definitely NOT designed for the newbie. (Macho dude and dudette: You had better know how to pogo before you attempt Vurtego.) Nevertheless, with some skills, a helmet, and no fear, you can set world records with this high-bouncing phenomenon. Good Vurtego jumpers leap over parked cars and other urban artifacts. You have to see this high-flying gift in action. Available in three sizes with a suggested price of $349.
What better tribute for dear old Dad than immortalizing his bold visage on an official U.S. postage stamp? Turn digital images into custom postage with PhotoStamps. I uploaded several pictures onto the website, selected the postage value, and a few days later, genuine postage with my chosen images arrived in the mail.
What can be more joyous than to send envelopes to bill collectors with stamps showing how far you can stick your tongue out? You do pay a premium for customizing your postage and prices vary depending on the value of the stamps you purchase. Still, they're great for customized invitations and the usual thoughtful self-promotion!
Canon PowerShot SD700 IS Digital Elph
Ok, I surrender! Canon's latest Digital Elph Power Shot SD700 IS has all the features we deserve in a tiny camera: An image-stabilized 4X optical zoom lens capturing 6 Mega Pixel pictures. I love the 16:9 widescreen option to display photos or videos across the full screen area of the newer monitors and televisions.
This ultra-portable camera is elegant and solid. The screen is comparatively huge and camera operation is simple. New ISO 800 settings allow high-speed blur-free pictures. Good glass on the lenses… good image processing behind the scenes… and image stabilizing features significantly improved the pictures I took with this lovely handful. About $450, street price.
The trusting folks at Canon (oh, so innocent, so forgiving, so optimisitic!) actually lent us the waterproof housing (WP-DC5) for this SD700 camera. It's hard for me to believe they forgot about the time, several months ago, we tried out a less lovely Canon digital camera in the appropriate waterproof case, only to discover a tiny thread broke the watertight seal. Well, what happens in such situations is fascinating: camera + salt-water = burned-out wreck.
I like the design of this new waterproof housing and do not intend to repeat my drenching experience on the precious SD 700. But, I decided to wait to do the underwater test until after I show you the nice camera just to be sure. (Waterproof case: about $165.)
LukWerks: Digital Video Surveillance System
What do you get for the guy who has everything? Something to watch it all. I was impressed by a new digital video surveillance system by LukWerks. The starter kit comes with an elegant brushed metal camera, power supply, and receiver. (Most video surveillance kits, in sharp contrast, look too ugly to place in a home.)
Attach the camera to a window and plug the camera into a standard electrical socket. The LukWerks system transmits a live videostream through your existing electrical wiring to a receiver attached to your home computer. The software allows you to use your computer as a video-server so you can remotely view up to six live cameras anywhere via the Internet. You can even set the software to email you when motion is detected by one of the cameras. Starter kit is $299 and additional cameras are about $250.
Toshiba HD DVD Qosmio G35-AV650
Last week, we showed you Samsung's stand alone Blu-ray high definition video player, the first of its kind commercially introduced in the United States. So, this week, we raise the ante by unveiling the first notebook computer that also plays high definition DVDs. Toshiba's brand new Qosmio G35-AV650 supports the competing high-definition DVD "flavor": HD DVD. Watch astounding pre-recorded high def DVD movies in gorgeous 1080P on the crisp and bright 17-inch diagonal screen (1920 X 1200 resolution.) If you prefer, output high definition video at 1080i using the HDMI connection to larger displays (like flat screens or projectors.)
This Toshiba notebook also plays standard legacy DVDs, of course. Sadly, the HD DVD and Blu-ray formats remain incompatible. Since these high definition DVD players are only now coming to market, there are relatively few titles available for either standard. Movie studios publicists continue to insist floodgates will soon pour forth a torrent of high-definition content and I'm too weary to debate them any longer.