Hand-held heaven

    With Part I of the 2006 holiday season safely out of the way, get ready for Part II. Part I is easy enough to talk about because nearly all of us refer to it by the same name: Thanksgiving.

    Part II, however, can be more confusing. Some call it Christmas, some call it Hanukkah, but whatever you call it, it usually involves gathering with loved ones. While it’s always nice (in theory) to gather with loved ones (we do love them, after all), the holidays might remind us why we don’t spend the rest of the year together.

    If you are one of those people who has a magical relationship with all those you love–never a harsh word, never a difference of opinion, no head trauma to speak of at the hands of a "well-meaning" brother–then read no further, because this is not about you.

    If, however, you sometimes wonder if your thrill-seeking brother loosened the bolts on your bicycle before inviting you on a death-defying ride down a very large hill, stay with me.

    Remember, the holidays are about YOU!

    Before I invite you to solve all of your problems with technology, please do something to disable your inner critic. Please do not think about the massive amounts of waste that are produced by our happy habit of technological upgrades. Do not bother yourself with any potential ramifications associated with what you will eventually discard: your old computer, cell phone, iPod, Game Boy, Nintendo, XBox, Discman or what have you. Neither should you think about the piles upon piles of dangerous electronic waste that are accumulating in some distant part of the world. That kind of thinking won’t bring you the Cheshire Cat smile that you’re likely to have when opening your presents upon Holiday Day.

    Instead, let’s just think about ourselves for a while–about our own problems and the vast opportunities available to us in utilizing technology.

    Making family time more bearable

    Even for those members of our families with starkly opposed political opinions, technology provides an exciting array of distractions, sure to lighten the mood and divert even the most committed debaters from their arguments. Simply introduce a harmlessly competitive element to guide loved ones away from old wounds. Brainteasers, provided by several popular hand-held gaming devices, are games that all ages can enjoy. Mathematical puzzles are understood across generations and cultures. Winning can provide just the one-upmanship you were looking for to counteract what may be decades of familial tyranny and oppression. There’s just nothing better than having the proof to say, "I’m smarter than you."

    Family gatherings too quiet? Are you made uncomfortable by those initial long silences while everyone gets reacquainted? Again, hand-held gaming devices could be just what’s needed to liven things up. These games are so user friendly and easy to understand that even the most techno-phobic family member will be drawn in once he sees all the fun that everyone else is having. Plus, if you are the only one with this game, you will become the life of the party and gain a reputation of being technologically enlightened. "Where’d you get this?" will be a common question. Test your mental prowess with Brain Age games and laugh to yourself as others in your family begin to develop electronic gaming addictions. Smile knowingly as the whole family is kept competitively occupied. Learn the games beforehand so that you will have the highest scores and amaze your family with your superior intellectual abilities. Proof that college is paying off.

    Reigning in your significant other

    Once you receive these items, you won’t be sorry as their long-lasting positive effects continue to be felt in your everyday life. Need some time away from the significant smother, but don’t want him/her out barhopping and potentially meeting someone more exciting? Again, consider a hand-held gaming device and some well-selected game cartridges. This will effectively tie up your loved one for as long as needed. Available with a host of refreshingly addictive games, a hand-held gaming system is just what the doctor ordered. No more nagging that she’s been waiting hours for you to arrive. She won’t even know that you’re gone.

    Justifying technological gifts

    Need an excuse to land that $400 iPod under the tree? Enlighten potential gift givers to the fact that you can now use your iPod with specially designed running shoes to count your steps. You are not asking simply for music, you are asking for a lifestyle change, one that will be significantly less expensive than fat camp for losing that freshman 15. Say all of this with a tear in your eye. You are, after all, just trying to improve yourself.

    But wait, if there’s $300 out there with your name on it, why not ask for Icuiti iWear. This iWear is powered off your video iPod (which hopefully you already have) and consists of sleek goggles with two tiny LCD screens on the inside. A system of grooved lenses magnifies images to simulate the look of a 35-inch TV screen to your brain. If the movies you are watching are formatted for 3D, you will also experience the illusion of depth. If you’re not buying it this year, watch for upgrades to this technology. This should be fun. How to justify this gift to loved ones? You’ll be using it to watch science and nature videos, of course.

    Perhaps you’ve just been through an intervention. No, not for drugs or alcohol or even a gaming addiction, that might have been bearable or even expected, but say you are confronted by 20 or so well-meaning family or friends who are just asking, no, begging you to do some laundry. The long and short of it is revealed to you. You stink! Don’t be dismayed. This is the perfect time to suggest Ground Pinnacle pants for your holiday present. Those concerned about you need only visit groundwear.com to discover the amazing properties of a fabric that has been designed to mimic the surface of lotus leaves, which naturally shed dirt and stains. Alternatively, get the fabric and cut it into ties for your father.