Now that the clock tower lights are lit, Santa has made the first of his (many) local appearances…for lunch, for breakfast, for pizza, etc….it’s time to get down to some serious shopping—preferably local, but wandering off into the exotic every so often.

So, in pursuit of exotica (Try looking that up on the internet some times; Sears & Roebuck , it ain’t), I looked in some recent publications for inspiration.  A couple of the items located were more likely to bring about palpitations than inspiration….  But I digress (and aren’t you surprised to find THAT out?).

If you’re looking for gift items that are NOT run-of-the-mill…have I got news for YOU!

How about  an invisible bike helmet?  Apparently, this has been all over the internet—as well it should be.  A couple of female design student in Sweden had a project/exam problem to produce a safer bike helmet and took the entrepreneurial attitude, “If people say it’s impossible, we have to prove them wrong.”

The result, called the Hovding, looks sort of like a scarf on steroids or a cervical collar with a stylistic flair.  I think that they had in mind women commuting to work on bicycles who didn’t want to have “helmet hair” when they arrived at their place of employment.  At $540, it’s pretty pricey, but so is brain surgery.  You can watch a video of a testing session—it’s labeled a “krocktest”—with a crash-test dummy (Looked a lot like me, actually, except for the bald head) being hit from behind, hitting an obstacle with the front wheel or taking a header off to the side.  Every time the dummy began to take a dive or flip over the car hood , some kind of sensor system in the Hovding caused a mini-airbag/helmet to inflate and fill with  some kind of foam.  By the time that the dummy’s head got to the ground or the front surface of the car, the neck and skull were surrounded by this protective layer.  Doesn’t do a thing for your other body parts, of course; hips and shoulders, ribs and backs are all left to their own devices, which, even on the dummy, looked as though they could be pretty painful.  At least the HQ (brain) hadn’t been turned to old-pumpkin mush in the encounter.  Some internet wit commented that it would be a good idea  to make sure that one did not have the thing on wrong-side-to.  Could be awkward…and painful.

This helmet would probably not do much good if one should choose to try out a new beverage written up in the journal LWT—Food Science and Technology .  It seems that  some Spanish and Portuguese researchers created an alcoholic beverage out of coffee.  They took used coffee grounds, dried them, reheated the powder in scalding water, took off the liquid, added yeast and sugar and let this concoction ferment.  Then they concentrated the liquid to raise the alcohol content.  They wound up with an 80 proof booze, about the same as tequila or vodka.  The account in Time Magazine implied that the taste wasn’t anything to write home about but might improve with age.  The other drawback, if, indeed it is one, is that most of the caffeine disappeared in the brewing process.  So you can’t use it as a new version of “hair of the dog”  to get over a hangover…should you ever get one.

How about some Stix in the Mud?  They are all-natural snacks by Funley’s (Their ad blurb is too corny for words), winners of the Fitness Magazine’s Healthy Snack Award in 2011 and boasting three—Count’em!  Three—different varieties : original, peanut butter and caramel.  The trademarked slogan is “Eat One.  Don’t Be One”.  O.K., then.  Funleys claim that these100% Natural (Whatever that means)snacks are clusters of whole-grain cookie bits covered in chocolate, either milk or dark, with NO transfats, NO preservatives, NO high-fructose corn syrup.  Sounds tasty all right but the website only sells them in packs of 12 4.5 oz. packages.  No wussy-type sampling here, nosirree.  You buy ‘em, you eat ‘em.  You could also try their offerings of crackers.  They come in Cornbread-n-Stuff and Pizza-n-Stuff .  Then there’s always Wholly Granolly Clusters (with double chocolate chips).  One of the lines in the ad calls one of the items “poppable”  but I never figured out how one could do that to the product.

And speaking of eating….  Some nutball on YouTube is pushing the “cotton-ball diet”.  The premise is that one takes the cotton-ball and dips it  (Or Them, If you’re going to have several courses) in juice long enough to absorb the liquid.  The next step is to eat the cotton-ball, juice and all.  The fiber in the cotton-ball makes one feel full and…presto-change-O…weight loss!  I can’t imagine that anybody’s gag-reflex wouldn’t kick in through the process of chowing down on soppy-wet cotton-balls.   Sounds pretty gross to me.

Or you could swallow the Motorola Edible Password Pill which contains a little-bitty chip of some sort using your stomach acid to power itself so that it can connect with your phone or computer or whatever; your whole body becomes a password!

And then, of course, you might want to check out the Zappos website, where they’re now marketing a $100,000 toilet plunger.

Last, but not least, there’s the High Roller, an adult(?) version of the popular kids’ toy, the Big Wheel.  You know, that comment, “Well, it’s not rocket science” ?  This was  created by an aerospace engineer and has tassels on the handlebars, a bell and really, really loud plastic tires.  The price tag on this baby is around $600 and you can have one of your very own by going to

Does it come with snow tires, I wonder.