Buy-tech

How to please the insufferable gearheads in your life

You're getting desperate—it's late in the holiday gift-giving season and you still haven't found the right present for that oddball cousin of yours. He's the one climbing Mt. Everest during most family gatherings, who then makes you sit through his slide shows when he's around. Or she's the one dragging a sled alone across the Arctic, with only a ski pole to protect her from ravenous polar bears. Even if these hard-to-shop-for individuals are only friends or acquaintances, you know the type: out of town every weekend, hiking or kayaking or spelunking (whatever the hell that means); working out obsessively at the gym; bragging endlessly about their myriad accomplishments; making the rest of us feel meek and insecure (yet also glad we'll never have to share a tent with them in a raging blizzard). Fortunately, there's an easy, sure-to-please gift solution for these hardbodied loudmouths—gear. Just choose from some of the following hot new products:

Kevlar Toilet Paper: Strong enough to be used for sail fabric in the America's Cup, light enough to be used as a substitute for steel in certain industrial applications, this space-age material is perfect for your next expedition. In emergencies, squares can be held transversely to cut ice and concrete, or be deployed as bulletproof shields. $500 per roll.

Parasail Laptop Case: Enliven your commute by plunging off the roof of your office building, then activating the steerable parachute contained within this handsome black nylon satchel. Better still, get some work done on your laptop during the gentle glide home. (Caution: Some parachutes and computers may crash.) $2,500.

Bicycle Autopilot: Put more energy into your triathaloning and training rides by forgetting about annoying directions, distractions, and traffic lights. Just enter your desired coordinates into the compact, lightweight, 50-pound, handlebar-mounted computer and ride, ride, ride! Employs the very latest in military and aerospace technology (do not pedal to China, North Korea, and other federally prohibited destinations). $3,000.

Glass-Bottomed Canoe: Enjoy the underwater scenery while paddling with this deluxe moon roof-like amenity. Sixteenth-inch, optically correct glass allows undistorted marine vistas. You and your canoeing companions will have plenty to discuss while viewing fish, abandoned cars, and waterlogged corpses. (Caution: Glass is subject to breakage.) $4,000.

Genetically Engineered Sled Dogs: Get more oomph on your next trip across Antarctica! These hulking 500-pound beasts are ready to pull, pull, pull! Scientifically selected traits of fierceness, strength, aggressiveness, and overall alpha dog behavior have all been enhanced for maximum power. (Note: Each dog requires 50 pounds of fresh caribou meat per day—or the closest available substitute.) $4,500 for a dozen.

GPS Chess Set: Know where your pawns and rooks are at all times. Precise locations are provided from three orbiting satellites whose geosynchronized signals also help navigate ships, airplanes, and cruise missiles. Provides extra assurance and concentration during important grandmaster-level competitions. Important disclaimer: Does not actually make you smarter. $5,000.

PC-Equipped Surfboard: Ride the big waves at Westport while you're checking your stocks and e-mail! The lightweight, wireless-compatible, waterproof computer is accessible through touch-screen controls on the deck of your longboard. Finally, you can surf the Net while surfing the wet! (Microsoft Windows-compatible only.) $6,000.

NASA-Tested Golf Clubs: Play with the set the astronauts took to the moon. Scoff at your friends' titanium irons and graphite woods with a bag full of space-tested beauties. Drive the ball like there's zero G on the course! Use the depleted uranium core-headed putter for extra smooth swings. (Warning: Radiation may cause mutations including growth of extra limbs.) $15,000.

Atomic Camp Stove: Never run out of fuel again! Boil water, melt snow, and irradiate beef in seconds! Compact nuclear reactor design makes for easy packing; produces more BTUs than traditional, cumbersome coal-fired steam plant. (Caution: In event of melt-down, don't press the red button.) $100,000.

Brian Miller is the film critic at Seattle Weekly.

 
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