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    Shopping In The 21st Century... Introducing the Educated Consumer
    Copyright © 2005, Bill Platt

    You may use this image in your ezine or website if you choose to publish my article. --- Bill Platt
    You may use this image in your ezine or website if you choose to publish my article. Click here to see the picture full-sized.--- Bill Platt
    Before I came online, I had a dream of a great wide world were I 
    could learn about all of the things that ever struck my fancy. 
    
    When I came online, I found just such a world, and then so much 
    more.
    
    One of my favorite all-around learning sites is: 
    http://www.howstuffworks.com/ . Just pick a topic, and chances 
    are that they will teach you all that you would ever want to know 
    on that topic. 
    
    Being a science and an astronomy buff, I thought seriously about 
    buying a telescope this Christmas "for my kids" ;-) and to 
    introduce them to the stars while they were still young. I have 
    been long in thought on this subject. 
    
    So, a few weekends back, I went to the HowStuffWorks site to 
    learn about telescopes so that I would know what kind of 
    telescope I should buy. 
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/telescope.htm 
    
    I learned enough about telescopes to know that I should not make 
    a purchasing decision in a day. I learned that to get the 
    telescope I really wanted, I might really need to open my wallet 
    real wide.
    
    What is the chance that I could have gone to a store to learn 
    what I needed to learn to make a good buying decision on 
    telescopes? Zip. Zero. Nada. 
    
    The really good news is that I can continue to go to see the 
    awesome pictures from the Hubble Telescope at the NASA website: 
    http://hubble.nasa.gov/index.php
    
    So, the kids did not get a telescope this year. Maybe they will 
    get one next year. 
    
    All is good though. They got really sweet gifts anyway. 
    http://www.fisher-price.com/us/powerwheels/ Check out the 
    Cadillac Escalade.
    
    Now, it is time to find something for my wife. 
    
    And then, I begin the long and frustrating search. What do you 
    get a woman who has everything she wants?
    
    I know... There is no such thing as "a woman who has everything 
    she wants." ;-) So, what do you buy a woman who won't tell you 
    what she wants?
    
    After a search for ideas late into the night one evening, I 
    leaned back in my chair and it hit me. Hanging on the wall above 
    my desk is a caricature that we had made for us when we were on 
    our honeymoon. She loves that thing and shows it off anytime 
    someone new comes to visit.
    
    My big head in that caricature almost seems to be an accurate 
    representation of my personality. ;-)
    
    Of course, the internet offers me a possibility of getting a 
    caricature done on the sly, so that my wife's Christmas present 
    can still be a surprise to her. 
    
    I can send family photographs to the caricature artist, and we do 
    not have to sit for a lengthy amount of time while an artist 
    works his magic.
    
    And in not having to sit while the artist works, we can avoid the 
    stress that both my wife and I experienced our first time around.
    
    I did mention that our first caricature was done while we were on 
    our honeymoon. We took our honeymoon in Las Vegas, and we stayed 
    at the Stratosphere Hotel for seven days. It was on our first 
    trip to the top of the Stratosphere, and while we were 110 
    stories up, the fire alarms in the tower went off! 
    
    After having spent 30 minutes waiting in vain for an elevator to 
    the ground floor, we decided to make the best of our time on 
    high. Of course, we could have taken to the staircase, but that 
    was a 110-flight escape route! And, we did not even know if there 
    was really a fire or whether some jerk thought he was being funny 
    and set the thing off for kicks.
    
    We took a walk around, and then I spotted the caricature artist. 
    I approached him to ask if we should be worried about the alarm 
    going off. He indicated that it was not uncommon, and that he was 
    not the least concerned. So, I stopped being concerned myself, so 
    long as I did not see any other reason to be concerned. 
    
    So, the young man took to talking me into having our caricature 
    done. I really had no interest in such a thing, but I did have 
    some time to kill. I was actually a hard sell, but he stuck to 
    it. He finally offered me a deal to sit, since his prospects were 
    pretty slim at that moment. After all, there was my wife and I, 
    and the other two-dozen people stuck at the 110th floor in a mild 
    state of concern. And, there were not any new people coming 
    upstairs of any kind, since the elevators seemed to not be 
    running at all.
    
    So, we took a sit and had our own caricature done on our 
    honeymoon trip. I think he nailed me perfectly. And, I thought he 
    missed my wife by a mile, but please don't tell her I said so. 
    She liked it, which is what is really important.
    
    For those in the learning mood, the first written history of 
    "caricature" was made available in a series of articles that ran 
    from February to December of 1875 in Harper's Monthly magazine. 
    Archived copies of those articles can be read online here: 
    http://www.boondocksnet.com/cartoons/cartoons_parton75.html . The 
    author of this series was James Parton. He was known in his day 
    as one of the pioneers of political caricature, and he was a 
    respected scholar in this field.
    
    In the first article, the author points out that a lot of early 
    graffiti was a form of caricature. In specific, he pointed to an 
    example of ancient graffiti found in the excavated ruins of 
    Pompeii, Italy, which was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
    
    It was only in the past century that people began to commission 
    caricatures of friends and family as gifts and to locate 
    caricature artists at many tourist destinations. The internet has 
    allowed the Average Joe to locate a caricature artist without 
    having to travel to the artist.
    
    After shopping around, I decided on 
    http://www.giveaspecialgift.com . Let me tell you why.
    
    I chose Give A Special Gift, because I found that they were not 
    thoroughly stuck on the big head caricature. While I might have a 
    big head about myself, I don't necessarily like the grossly 
    exaggerated "big head" that most caricature artists take to the 
    canvas. Of course, the nature of the caricature is to exaggerate 
    the obvious, but that is not always what the client wants.
    
    I wanted to do a more realistic, family portrait style caricature 
    with my wife, my kids and myself in the artwork. My kids take 
    solo pictures beautifully, but they can never sync for a family 
    photo. So, to the artist, I sent a digital family photo and solo 
    digital photographs of my children. 
    
    I have found the perfect gift for "the woman who has everything 
    she wants." This year for Christmas, she will have a caricature 
    of her family, using the best shots from all of us. And best of 
    all, she will be able to hang her gift upon the wall and cherish 
    it for the rest of her life. Now THAT is a Christmas gift worth 
    giving.
    
    Merry Christmas everyone!
     
    



    Writer's Resource Box:
    Bill Platt is the owner of http://www.LinksAndTraffic.com
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