pen rainbow

Friday, December 31, 2010

10 Great Gifts for 18 to 20-Something Girls

MissMatched Socks
Review of Holiday Gifts 2010

1. Fine Jewelry ($150 to $300)
Diamonds are a girl's best friend! The little velvet box is almost as good as what's inside. Go for the classics, a delicate pearl bracelet or a pair of diamond stud earrings. A gold charm or a semi-precious pendant necklace will go over like gangbusters with most women, regardless of age.

Tiffany's cultured freshwater pearl bracelet ($250)
Tiffany's Paloma Picasso Sterling & Gold Espresso Cup Charm ($150)
Tiffany's Elsa Peretti Sterling Open Heart Pendant Necklace with Aquamarine ($275)
Macy's 14k White Gold Diamond Studs (1/5 ct. t.w.) ($300)
Amazon 14k White Gold Round Diamond Stud Earrings (1/4 ct. t.w.) ($166.32)

2. Fashion Jewelry (Under $75)
So, you don't want to spend over $75, but you want to get her something nice? Sorelli jewelry specializes in semi-precious stones and high quality Austrian crystals. Delicate & bold, this jewelry is affordable and youthful. Mix & match the pieces in each collection or follow the designer's suggestions for matching items. Look for new seasonal collections. Nordstrom's also carries some Sorelli pieces.

Sorelli Snow Bunny Three-Tiered Drop Crystal Pendant ($74.80)
Sorelli Snow Bunny Swarovski Crystal Earrings ($35.20)
Sorelli Snow Bunny Emerald and Oval-Cut Crystal Bracelet ($143)

3. Boutique Chocolates ($12 to $23)
Give her something other than Godiva next year. I have personally tried each one of these, and they are exquisite. If you happen to be traveling through the Las Vegas McCarran airport, look for the Ethel M Chocolate counters in each of the gate areas. The website is not showing the alcohol-infused cocktail chocolates, which are available at the EM counters. They also make a line of kosher chocolates.

Poco Dolce Bittersweet Chocolate Sea Salt Aztec Chili Tiles (8-Tiles $18)
Recchiuti Fleur de Sel Caramels ($23)
Ethel M's Sugar-Free Double-Dipped Macadamias ($12)

4. Cash!
Cash is always a good gift! 18 to 20-Somethings love getting extra cash for the movies, lunch with the galpals, or after-Christmas sales. I'm not talking about paying off her credit card, but a few bucks in a gift envelope is something that young adults appreciate and need. Checks are outmoded and tedious these days, so stick with actual cash.

5. Custom Designed Starbuck's Gift Card ($15, $25, $50, $100)
Starbuck's has a fun little alternative for purchasing a custom-designed gift card! I like this because it adds a personal touch to the standard choices that are available on gift card racks, and it's easy to do online. The cards are also renewable from the Starbuck's website:

6. Japanese Tabi Socks ($14)
Ankle-high to mid-calf with a split between the big toe and the rest of the toesies, these are cozy and super cute! We originally found these at the Japan pavilion in Epcot, but Amazon carries several designs for men & women.

Tansu Tabi Fashion Socks for Women

7. Miss Matched Socks ($8 for a 3-Sock Pack)
As long as we're talking about socks, these are super-fun, casual socks that come in packs of three, and none of them match. I wear these when I travel because they're fun to wear through the security check-points when I have to take off my shoes!

Little Miss Matched Women's Zany Black Anklets (shoe sizes 4 to 10)
Little Miss Matched Women's Zany White Anklets (shoe sizes 4 to 10)

8. Personalized Yearly Calendar ($20 to $30)
This is fun for the crafty types out there! I do this every year for various relatives so that they can remember to send birthday cards and/or gifts for special occasions. Start collecting holiday stickers and stickers for other occasions. Stock up on flags, hearts, stars, and birthday stickers. The total cost depends on how many sticker packs you buy.

Around Thanksgiving, buy a new year's calendar and a multicolor pack of Sharpie laundry markers. Use the darker colors to write in birthdays and other upcoming important events. It's fun to write in anniversaries and remembrances, as well. Highlight your notes with fat highlighter markers. Purchase calendar-sized mailers at calendar stores and at Barnes & Noble. Make sure that your calendar fits the mailer!

Mrs. Grossman's Stickers ($2 to $5 per pack)
Pocket Pigs of Pennywell Farm 2011 Wall Calendar (Amazon) ($9.93)
Sharpie Accent Tank-Style Highlighters, 12 Color Pack ($8.12)

9. McKlein Winnetka Leather Women's Briefcase ($120)
These sleek professional-looking briefcases come in seven contemporary colors. My preference is for the Legally Blond pastel pink number, but they're all beautiful. This retails for $180 on the McKlein website, but you can get it on Amazon for less.

McKlein USA W Series Winnetka Leather Women's Briefcase

10. Waterford Crystal Heart Ring Holder ($65)
Every girl has rings, but there aren't very many ring holders out there that have an heirloom quality. I love these little ring holders! This one is practical and makes a lovely gift.

Macy's Waterford Heart Ring Holder

Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 Great Gifts for 18 to 20-Something Guys

Review of Holiday Gifts 2010—For Guys

1. Airline Gift Certificates ($10 & up)
For young adults who travel regularly between home and school or between your home and wherever they are living, an airline gift card is a great idea, especially if you know which airline they prefer. The following airlines offer gift certificates:

Alaska/Horizon (Link to purchase online from Terms & Conditions)
Delta (purchase at a ticket counter)
Virgin America (Gift travel points through their Elevate program)

This would be a good gift for anyone who likes to travel! Be sure to check the Terms & Conditions for travel restrictions, redemption procedures, luggage fees, and purchase methods.

2. Socks & Underwear (GAP crew socks 3-pack $18)
It wouldn't be Christmas without socks and underwear, so find out what style they like, which brand they prefer, confirm their size preference, and put several new pairs under the tree. Stick with everyday neutral colors for socks (black, tan, khaki, white, navy, brown). GAP is great for socks & boxer shorts, and this season, shipping is free for purchases over $50. Men's socks are not currently on sale, but they are durable, comfortable and affordable:

3. Twelve South BookBook Hardback Leather Covers for MacBook Pro ($79.99) & iPad ($69.99)
These are neat, protective covers for the MacBook Pro and the iPad that look like leather-bound book covers. They come in 2 styles, red bound & black bound, and in 2 sizes for the MacBook Pro, 15-inch and 13-inch. The iPad bookbook cover measures 8.3" W x 10.6" H x 1" D and fits the standard size iPad. To best disguise the MacBook Pro, the BookBook cover is not recommended for white MacBooks. Available from the Twelve South website:

And, this neat vid describes the iPad BookBook:

4. iTunes Gift Cards ($10 to $50)
These are available online through the iTunes store, or if you happen to be at Safeway doing your grocery shopping, they are available on their gift card rack.

5. Cash! ($10 to $20)
Walking around money, great for stocking stuffers and really good for nieces & nephews! My sister & I send each other's kids $10 each at Christmas time every year. We also give this amount for birthdays. Graduations get $50. Young adults are cash strapped all the time, so a little scratch in a cute money envelope with a personal note is immediately usable and very much appreciated. For all of you cheapo, everything-has-to-be-equal types out there, stop grousing about who is spending more, you or your sibling. Adult kids will remember that you always sent them a little extra cash.

6. Netflix ($7.99 for 1 month, no DVD instant view on a Mac, PC, or TV)
This is a nice gift for anyone who likes to watch movies. Netflix makes it easy to give a gift subscription from 1 month to 1 year. This is also one of those great no-brainer, renewable gifts.

7. Ableton Live Intro Software ($99 for the download, $139 for the boxed version)
Sophisticated software products for writing, producing and performing music. This is rich, mind-blowing, fun software for the smarty-pants recording engineer.

8. McKlein USA Briefcase / Laptop Carrier / Leather Messenger ($140 - $300)
Beautiful, professional bags for job interviews and other important meetings. Great selection for men & women; youthful and stylish. My daughter bought a pink leather briefcase from this company.

9. Old Spice 16-Hour Odor Blocker (Deo Fresh) Body Wash (around $5)
I bought this for my husband at Target as part of an Old Spice Swagger Shower Set, which also included deodorant and other shower items. Super nice for guys of any age!

10. Victorinox Swiss Army Backpack ($95))
A good back pack is a mainstay for 18 to 20-Somethings. Victorinox adds security, quality, and style to the mix. Luggage Pros is a recommended e-tailer from the Victorinox website, free shipping & returns, plus PayPal & VeriSign security.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Power of Zuck

Clara & Swiffer
"Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own..."

Yesterday, I announced that I was dropping my zuckface account so that I could make time for other things, like walking, writing, and reading. I forgot to mention home repair projects. Turns out, I'm pretty good with a Dremel (a little buzzy saw). Boring stuff really, but I haven't been able to get a handle on these activities because I've spent so much time navigating and maintaining my facebook account.

I want to reiterate that I am a proponent of online communications and the development of social media. I'm just not a proponent of procrastinating and wasting time. I'm Borgish in a purpose-driven, efficiency-focused, task-oriented sort of way when it comes to allocating my time during the day. At night, I collapse into a heap of goo, but during the day, I am productive. Although, it has been both gratifying and fun to reconnect with long lost family and friends, there are just so many hours in the day that I am willing to spend managing my zuckface account.

I am following the momentum from last year that started when I disconnected from virtual reality. Too many hours chained to a computer and the tunnel vision required to complete animation projects pushed me toward the realization that as much as I enjoyed the work, and as good as I was at doing it, I did not want to spend the rest of my productive years married to my Mac. Plus, I think I ruined my eyesight, my hair got grayer, and my butt migrated to my abdomen because of my weirdly shaped ergonomic chair. My run at VR was over, and I shifted my focus to healthier, more concrete Swiffering. (Swiffer owners know what I mean.)

Breaking away from the zuckersphere has been interesting! I left my profile active today so that people on my friends list would have a chance to see my status update and know that I am changing venues. Fb got the axe because I'm tired of managing my privacy settings, which as it turns out, is one of the reasons why facebook's customer satisfaction rating is in the bottom 5 percent of all measured private sector companies (according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, July 2010).  Right down there with the airlines and cable companies.

However, I'm still hearing the mother ship calling me back to the collective...Shhhhsh, Zuckerborg homing device! Like Seven of Nine, I still have a few zuck implants left in me, but my humanity is starting to reassert itself. 

Live long and Swiffer!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From Zuckface to Blogface

When Social Networking Goes Too Far

my generic photo place holder

After much deliberation and coffee, I have decided to take an extended vacation from facebook. "Wha—Wha—WHY?!" you ask. Because facebook interferes with my life in a way that makes me itch, psychologically. It's an itch that won't go away. Mostly, it's a privacy issue.

I had to become a fb settings Nazi in order to understand and control my shared info, only to find out recently that I had given every one of my favorite applications permission to access my personal pix and videos. I don't think that I want to do that, but if I wanted to keep my cat profiles updated on Catbook, I had to give that app permission to access my personal photographs and movies. Yikes. And, I had to give that app permission to post on my wall. More yikes! How do I know who is at the other end of catbook? Some crazy facebook addicted cat hoarder, perhaps? And, what if one of those people decides to hack the app and somehow gain access to my personal info? That's the kind of stuff that sits on my brain and causes me to itch.

I get it that there is a perfectly reasonable software explanation for granting that type of access. Some of these apps have a useful feature for posting updates to the news feed. In order to do that, I had to give my favorite chocolate factory in Berkeley permission to access my facebook data. Wait, I don't think I really want to give a commercial app access to all of my facebook data, but I did. Why? Because apparently, I need to know that there's a new boutique chocolate on the market. In reality, I don't. I can just go to Whole Foods and stare at the candy shelf like a chocolate-deprived zombie. Gets me out of the house, anyway, and I might accidentally purchase a healthy vegetable along the way. And, while I'm staring aimlessly at the organic, sea-salted, chocolate tiles, I might meet another chocolate-deprived zombie and make an actual in-person social connection. Face-to-face instead of faceless in a forum where communications are ambiguous and passive aggression lurks in the dark shadows of the friends list.

When I think about how much time I've spent in the past year trying to control how my fb information was shared, I realize how much more I could have accomplished that would have had a direct and positive impact in my daily life. If I hadn't spent so much time farting around on facebook, I'm sure that I would have figured out how to execute a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) replacement of my deck this year. As it is, I have a water-logged platform of death with bright orange traffic cones and upside down planters marking the booby-traps where one is likely to crash through the deteriorating boards.

The first thing I do every morning (after I perform the Walter Brennan shuffle to the bathroom) is drink coffee and check my email. Then, I check my facebook page, starting with the news feed. My philosophy has always been to interact on facebook. It is a social forum, after all. I make a point to comment and/or like what people have posted. As far as I'm concerned, that is the point of a social website—to interact. But, I have spent far too much time and used up way too much of my not-so-plentiful mental fuel juggling my friend lists relative to the news feed, which puts me into a kind of retroactive high school mode.

To hide or not to hide, to unfriend or to accept friendship from someone I barely know. Should I click "accept," because a friend will be offended if I don't accept friendship from his/her spouse, even though I've never met the spouse? The answer is "yes," better click "accept." Then, every person on my friend's spouse's friends list gets to see my comments if I post on my friend's wall. :::Itch::: Seriously, I could have been a lot more productive over the past year, and instead, volunteered my time boxing up canned artichokes at the food bank or walking chihuahuas at the animal shelter. I could have dug that long-awaited moat around my house.

More than anything, facebook violates what I think is a fundamental right of every young adult to eff up and to have those moments of personal indiscretion fade into obscurity over time. We are all entitled to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. I'm super glad that facebook wasn't around when I was in college. In 1979, my perm alone was enough to scare small children and zoo animals. Even so, thanks to facebook, a revealing photo of me in a bikini sprawled out on a beach at a high school party was posted by a high school classmate. :::Itch::: Okay, so I might have for two seconds, considered a deal with Beelzebub to have that 17-year old body back, but I did not choose to share that photo, and now, it's on the Internet. Once something is launched into cyberspace, there's no retrieving it. For all of the good that comes from re-establishing social connections through facebook, the core of facebook is privacy-invasive.

Mark Zuckerburg's original act was to hurt someone using a social network. It was a misogynistic act of immaturity and vindictiveness that launched the site to begin with, and those elements still exist. Certainly not with every individual, but the opportunity to damage or destroy someone is still there, and the effect is long lasting. The unpredictable power of the technology beneath our fingertips puts every facebook user at risk for unintentionally causing harm to others, or worse, being on the receiving end of that unfortunate outcome.

Facebook connects, but it also interferes in people's lives. And, that is where I draw the line. There are other effective ways to stay in touch that do not require users to sign off on privacy and/or compromise relationships. I resolve to write a blog that is uplifting and humorous, and as inoffensive as I can make it (that's a disclaimer, btw). Ironically, by creating a blog, I am not restricting info to "only friends." But, I have more control over how my personal information is shared than I would on facebook.

Here's to a happy, healthy & productive New Year!