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
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.
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
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:
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
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
Merry Christmas everyone!