Winner! Plus Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Congratulations, Emma #181! Random.org indicates that you are the chosen one. Enjoy your slotRadio and perfect ice cubes.

The rest of you may have some shopping to do, but fortunately your Father’s Day ideas are inspired. Freddy made Moo Cards from photos her dad has taken, so he can share his Flickr address with photo subjects when he travels. Evil Science Chick would love to replace the powder blue Mustang her father sold when she was born so he could buy a family car. Adel says, “My dad loves bouncy balls for some reason, so a big bag of bouncy balls would probably be his ideal father’s day gift.” And when Melissa was six, she picked a all the dandelions from the yard and left them in the mailbox for her father. He was on his way to punish her for shattering yet another pair of glasses when he found the bouquet, and decided against it. Awww.

Congratulations again, Emma! And for everyone else, here are the rest of your Father’s Day ideas:

Handmade and/or Sentimental
Big batches of homemade soup for the freezer
Transferring all his photo slides to digital
Homemade cards
Homemade book on the theme of “I love you more than…”
Repay college tuition
A card I made in college with a picture of us and words cut out of
baking
a macaroni encrusted picture frame of me
Baseball game scrapbook

Personalized

A brick engraved with his name and the details of his service to the USMC. The personalized brick is now among the many on the path at the Marine Corps Memorial here in DC.
Framed Photos
Portraits of the kids in their “My Dad Rocks” t-shirts
stepping stone imprint of our daughter’s feet
Mug with daughter’s handprints
Photo mousepad

Booze and Food
Beer of the month
Hot Sauce of the Month
Single malt Scotch
Tequila
Mr. Beer Homebrew Kit
A carton of cigarettes and a twelve pack of beer
Six-pack of PBR and a can of mixed nuts
Vintage Bourbon
A bag of “goodies” from the Sierra Nut House

Hobbies
Hiking Walking Stick
LA Times Sunday Crossword books
A Small Orchard
Anything from Lee Valley, a mail-order catalogue for woodworkers and gardeners
Painting lessons
Golf bag, shirts, jackets, pants, clubs, shoes, balls
Sunrise fishing trip
Tickets to the US Open golf championship for him and his favorite golf partner, my husband
Golds Gym for Wii
Enertia Electric Motorcycle
New Train Set
Chrome for his Harley
Afternoon of hang gliding
Gardening supplies
Ashtray
Kayaking
Sailing trip
adult tricycle

Family Time
A bag of circus peanuts and a road trip to Gettysburg
A nice meal
Child seat for his bike, helmet for the kiddo
2 copies of a book on a subject we are both interested in- one for each of us- so we can talk about them as we both read them
Extend our satellite TV channels
Day off from parenting
Disney World with his 3 grandkids
Hammock
I flew home one year as a complete surprise
A weekend without a schedule
A trip to Kansas City to cruise around all the places he liked to go as a kid with stops at his favorite BBQ and burger joints.
A day of antiquing together

Gadgets
Wireless headphones
GPS
Flip video recorder

Handyman Enablers
Chainsaw
Ladder
Manure fork
The Nail Jack

Tickets, Gift Cards, Donations

Opera tickets
Circus tickets
Movie tickets
Concert tickets
Sports tickets
eBay gift certificate
Borders card
Best Buy card
Gift certificates for rounds of golf, and a series of Sunday mornings where no one asks him to do anything, so he can play guilt-free
In-N-Out gift card
Heifer International donation

Practical

New bumper for the pickup
Travel toiletry kit
Underwear
Detail his car
A puppy
Tractor attachment

Media

Magazine subscriptions
Best-of This American Life
Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions
Louis L’Amour book
I renew my Dad’s subscription to Smithsonian Magazine.
Great Professors lectures on DVD from The Teaching Company

I Got Your Dad a Present

I got a Father’s Day gift for your dad. But why am I buying stuff for your dad? It’s not what you think! We’re just good friends.

Actually, I’ve been meaning to make little surprises for you guys for years, but it’s kind of labor intensive, and expensive, and I suck at errands, and there’s a lot of reality TV between me and my grand ideas. You understand. I finally got my act together because Sandisk slotRadio offered to foot the bill for my theme-gifts project, as long as they got to pick the themes. Of course, they threw in some slotRadios too. Sweet.

They picked Father’s Day, so I made a Lazy Sunday Kit, which contains restful things. Would you like to know what’s in it? Yes:

The Aforementioned slotRadio
It’s like a walkman, but instead of CDs or tapes, you put in a little memory card that comes preloaded with music you didn’t have to download. This one comes with 1,000 Billboard songs, but you can buy other cards if you like. Also, there’s room for you to upload your own mixes if you want to hear something that’s not on the card.

A One-Year Subscription to The Week Magazine
I’ve told you about this epic magazine before on The Morning News. Here’s what I said:

The Week is a news digest for the impatient and globally curious. Say you had a genius friend who read three-dozen of the world’s best newspapers every day. Then say that friend agreed to write a summary for you featuring all the best stuff he found on every subject.

That’s The Week—excerpts from the top columns, news articles, business deals, real estate, gossip, and even TV listings. Best of all, it’s slim enough to fold in half and read during one good, long soak in the tub. You’ll emerge wrinkled, but utterly prepared for the most arduous cocktail party.

Warning! This will be shipped to whatever address the winner provides. So you’ll need to think really hard about how much your dad means to you.

Oxo No-Spill Travel Mug
A travel mug with an agreeable clicky button on the top that opens and closes the cup when you press it. You could practically throw the thing in a bag and it wouldn’t spill. Genius. Now dad can read his magazine anywhere he wants.

The Perfect Cube Silicone Ice Cube Trays

These make excellent, perfectly cubular ice cubes. I’m including these instead of a bottle of bourbon, because I technically have no idea who you are. You could be like sixteen, and Bam! You’re corrupted. Suddenly I’m a corruptor. Anyway, please use these perfect ice cubes in the tasty beverage of your choice — cocktail or otherwise. Kids, stay away from drugs.

Now, isn’t that a nice present? I think so too. I spent a lot of time agonizing at the mall today. Anyway, if you want it, or your dad does, here’s the deal. First you have to live in the continental U.S. or Canada. If you do, please leave a comment below about the ideal Father’s Day gift. Be sure to include your email address in the field provided (so I can reach you if you win) by June 12, 2009 at 12 a.m. EST. Just one comment, please. I have to delete duplicates for fairness. Random.org will decide who wins, and I’ll contact the lucky via email. I’ll also tell you who won here.

So, ready? Best Father’s Day Gift on record? Aaaand go!

Who me? Just reading a magazine.

Have you ever seen one of those book safes that’s hollow inside so you can hide important stuff? I want a travel laptop small enough to hide inside a magazine:

That’s part of my latest post for the WePC campaign, which is as much about laptop security as portability. This is because people are fond of stealing my shit.

Please go read, and tell me what you think. Am I being paranoid? I’m hoping I’m not the only one who feels anxious using expensive equipment in public — especially in a foreign country where your laptop may be equal to, say, the average annual salary.

We’ve Out-Nerded Them

Holy crap. Did you get my back on the Moleskine laptop or what? Thank you, guys. You are goodies.

As it turns out, you want a Molekskine laptop too. (Make one, ASUS. Do it.) There was much discussion about exactly what you want, so instead of doing my wallet-laptop spiel, this next post is a roundup of your most desired features and clever comments.

We’ll also talk about this thrilling photo:

Gah! Give me that.

Also! A couple of you had your own ideas about dream laptops, and I found this intriguing. To be honest, I’ve never spent much time making laptop wishes until I got this assignment, but it’s surprisingly fun. Tell me your computer fantasies! Unless they involve fox costumes and beeswax — in which case, this might not be the best forum.

Anyway, go see! Tell me what you think. And thanks again.

Please Express Approval for My Awesome Laptop Idea

I just wrote a post for Intel and ASUS about how I want a sneaky laptop that looks like a Moleskine:

They hired me to conceptualize eight imaginary laptops for them, and I’m a little panicked. Most of their posts trend toward the uber-geeky — they’re discussing charger cord patents, so I kind of sound like, “I want a laptop with flowers on it! Eeeeeeee!”

(By the way, these copywriting campaigns are how I make a living. Advertisers are like, “We need more women to want laptops! [hand cream! cell phones! little black dresses!]” And I’m like “Women do want those things.” And they’re like, “Who are these women of which you speak?” And I’m like, “Uh, all women.” And then they pay me to write stuff. Stuff that’s way more fun than the copywriting I used to do, incidentally, where they mostly assumed customers would be confused by wit. Hence, I like this better. Questions welcome in comments.)

Anyway, these laptop ideas inform their prototypes of new PCs, and I would like a Moleskine laptop, please. Quite possibly one with flowers on it; I’m not ruling it out. So please go read my post, and back me up if you feel the same.

Also, I think my next post will be about a laptop that fits in a wallet so you can use it when you’re out at a bar. Is that called a cell phone? Possibly, but shut up, it will be rad.

Meeting Dara Torres

Dara Torres is exhausted. The five-time Olympian was up at dawn doing satellite interviews to promote Big Milk, and her new book. She’s been awake since 4 a.m., answering the same questions repeatedly, and now she’s gamely meeting with us so we can ask them again.

We’re a handful of mom bloggers, most of whom have known each other — or known of each other — for years. We’re talking shop and cracking jokes beside an enormous public pool when Dara emerges. Her swimsuit says “Love 2 Swim” on the front, and there’s a prolonged moment of confusion about how we should greet her. Are we supposed to greet her?

We’re here, courtesy of Hewlett Packard, to observe an Olympic Mom in Action. She’s just like us! With the baby? And the nine Olympic medals? And the muscles that look like they originated in a quarry?

Hewlett Packard believes that we are all women who use technology to simplify our lives, and in this moment we don’t disappoint. We’re pulling out our digital SLRs to photograph Dara, grabbing our phones to Twitter about Dara, but for the most part no one is saying hi to Dara. No one is even making eye contact with Dara. After a few minutes of hopeful glances our way, she finally turns to her handlers. “You just want me to do a couple of laps?”

It occurs to me that this would be a nightmare scenario for me, but Dara is handling it with grace. She is standing alone and exhausted in a swimsuit before a group of women, all of whom are mostly ignoring her while surreptitiously checking out her body.

Her body is accomplished, my friends. Breathtaking.

Of course, the grace has come with practice, Dara has been checked out before. How many of us hang out in our swimsuits on national TV? In the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition? On the pages of Maxim? Dara and I are not from the same planet when it comes to bathing suit nightmares. I’m guessing hers involve more pressing matters than what a bunch of bloggers think about her thighs.

People, her thighs are terrible with power.

She dips one toe in the water and shivers. “It’s cold,” she says, smiling back at us over her shoulder. “I hate it when it’s cold.”

Dara has two smiles, one that’s open and friendly, and another that’s ambiguous, the type of smile that’s particularly confounding to men in their early twenties. The latter suggests that she’s amused, but perhaps only because she thinks you’re full of shit. The overall impression is happy, but skeptical, and so I like her.

She jumps in the water, and swims quietly back and forth. There’s a charming old lady in the pool who calls out, “You’re more beautiful than Esther Williams!” Because this lady is the only one bold enough to approach, Dara jokes with her for quite awhile about exercise and aging, and they mug together, flexing for our cameras. This situation becomes slightly less charming, but much more amusing, when the lady chases Dara into the locker room to ask her increasingly personal questions while she showers. This too, Dara handles gracefully, she seems also to have had practice with fans who have boundary issues.

After the brief swim, Dara leaves with the group for lunch at an upscale sushi restaurant. She asks if there’s fish in one of the rolls. I say, “Crab, I think.” She turns to the next tray. “Are you allergic?” I ask. “I don’t really like fish,” she says. I’m surprised by this, as though spending half your life in water should somehow impart a craving for halibut.

In my few minutes of interview time, I ask what’s left on her life list. She looks perplexed. “What do you mean, life list?” Well, what does she still want to do? She’s an Olympian, an author, are there any smaller things she hasn’t gotten to yet? “You know, someone else asked me this, and I don’t really have a bucket list or anything,” she says. Not even anything little, like having an ice cream with your kid? “Like before I die? That’s kind of morbid,” she laughs. “I mean, I assume I’ll be around for all that stuff. I’m trying to enjoy everything right now, take those things day by day.” Well, you must have goals though, I stutter. “Yeah. Right now, I’m training and swimming for world championships.” Ah! Of course. The swimming. I guess that does count as a goal if you’re an “Olympian” or whatever. I refrain from telling her that I like fruit, and am hoping to one day do a pull up. Maybe another time.

After our interviews, someone asks what kind of T.V. she watches. It turns out Dara is a Rock of Love devotee. Suddenly, any self-consciousness at the table evaporates. There’s little more endearing to a group of bloggers than confessing you like crappy reality TV. Dara Torres is a sister.

Conversation turns to Dancing with the Stars, and she admits she considered joining the cast this season. Dear god. You have to do that, I say. “Tell my agent!” she says, and cuts her chin upward in his direction. “Evan!” He looks up from his phone. “She says I should have done Dancing with the Stars.” “Hey!” he says. “I wanted you to do it. You were the one giving me all that crap about spending time with your kid.” She laughs.

“Can you dance?” I ask. “No.” She says. “I’m terrible. I just didn’t want to get voted off first.” “Nah,” I say. “You’re too America’s Sweetheart for that.”

She grins.

———————–

More of My Photos
And takes from the rest of the crew:
Liz Gumbiner from Mom-101
Dory Devlin for Shine
Alice Bradley from Finslippy
Tracey Gaughran-Perez from Sweetney
Amy of Amalah