Posted in zany, offbeat, somewhat silly humor

Third Annual Lateral Thinking Department Christmas Gift Guide

Well Christmas has come and gone.  Again.  One minute it’s like, July 16th and the next thing you know it’s January 4th.  (Obviously that would be January 4th of the next calendar year since as far as most of us know, time travel hasn’t been invented yet.)

But anyway, January  proceeds to drag on for what seems like 83 days, followed by February coming in with what seems like 56 days, March at 41 days and so on until July 16th comes around again.  Then the rest of the year suddenly seems to vanish with a blinding flash of light, leaving behind an unidentified foul odor, and it’s December 23rd.  You still haven’t done any shopping.

So this year I decided to help you out and be proactive with this Christmas Gift Guide.

By the way, I was exaggerating about it seeming like January 83rd.  Everyone knows that January only has 31 days.  But remember that January is tied with March, May, July, August, October and December in that regard.

Speaking of the months of March, May, July, August, October and December, I decided to rearrange them to spell Charmer, Mabel, Stu, Tobey, Margey, Cud and Cujo, since I didn’t have anything better to do while I was waiting for this column to pick up some momentum.

By an astounding coincidence, Charmer, Mabel, Stu, Tobey, Margey, Cud and Cujo also happen to be the names of the co-stars in the upcoming Tyler Perry remake of Snow White, entitled: “Madea Takes A Job Cooking And Cleaning For Six Other Much Smaller People And Their Dog Cujo, Before Lapsing Into A Coma.”

madea in kitchen
Madea pondering what to feed her dog Cujo (not shown)

I fully intend to get to the Gift Guide but meanwhile, if you’re looking for something else to amuse you, try Dave Barry’s 2017 Year in Review: Did that really happen?  Dave is much funnier than I am and he also won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988.  I didn’t win anything in 1988 but in 1980 I won a silver tray for the highest marks in 4th year Undergrad Chemistry.  Zzzzzzz….

But on that note, as promised, here’s my 3rd Annual Lateral Thinking Department Christmas Gift Guide for 2018:

Official Lateral Thinking Department Christmas Gift Guide

1) Digital copies of movies. (Legal copies, of course!)

Everyone likes movies.  Here are what I feel are several great suggestions:

-Digital copy of the as-yet-to-be-released Tyler Perry movie: “Madea Takes A Job Cooking And Cleaning For Six Other Much Smaller People And Their Dog Cujo, Before Lapsing Into A Coma”

six dwarfs
Six Small People Exhibiting Various Reactions Upon Hearing The News That Cujo Is Missing

-Digital copy of the1967 Peter Brook film: “Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade”


This sounds like a fairly weird movie if you ask me.  The only reason I chose it is that when I found a list of movies with the longest titles I liked it better than the first-place finisher.

First place went to: “Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Zombified Living Dead, Part 2”

I didn’t put that movie in the Guide because it sounded kind of lacklustre.


2) Starbucksology Coffee Mug


Starbucksology might just be a fancy word for Hipsterism, but it is actually the science of predicting someone’s personality traits, favorite animal, political preference, shoe size, etc, based on what they like to order at Starbucks.  It’s sort of like Astrology only with more options.

For example, someone who likes venti peppermint with chocolate mocha will probably prefer to work in a medical laboratory whereas someone who orders a tall, skinny vanilla latte most likely works in the accounting department of a medical laboratory.  Someone who routinely buys oat fudge bars from Starbucks definitely should NOT work in any accounting department because they are willingly paying about 4.26 times as much as a similar bar sold elsewhere.


3) Argon Plasma Coagulator

conmed APC unit.jpg
Argon plasma coagulator power supply
argon plasma coagulator
Business end of argon plasma coagulator busily coagulating the surface of someone’s liver








An Argon Plasma Coagulator (APC) is a handy gadget which can spray a focused beam of highly energetic argon ions pretty much anywhere you’d want to spray them.  (Man, I wish I had had one of those when I was a kid.) APC’s are commonly used to stop bleeding during surgery, so this is a great gift if you happen to be friends with a surgeon.  Especially if that surgeon has a propensity for leaving calling cards.


You think I’m kidding but I’m not.  British liver surgeon Simon Bramhall is currently facing charges of “assault occasioning actual bodily harm” for marking his initials on the livers of two patients during their transplant surgeries.  He also faces the lesser charge of wearing a busy pink and purple tie to the ofifice on occasion.


Dr. Bramhall will be sentenced sometime later this month.  I think that at a minimum, he should be ordered to perform 100 hours of community services such as erasing graffiti.

graffiti removal
Maintenance worker using argon plasma beam to remove graffiti


4) Wenger 16999 knife


This is a great gift.  The reason it’s so great is that it has 187 different implements, but the main reason you should get one for somebody is so that they can add their own review to the long list of hilarious bogus reviews on Amazon.  Here are a few examples:

-Excellent product. I found the Large Hadron Collider to be particularly useful on long hikes.

The knife has become self-aware, and is staring at me from the corner of the room.

-As soon as I found out how much my husband spent on this, I left him. Bad move. It represented him at the divorce hearing. I now pay $10,000 a month in alimony.

-This knife actually birthed Richard Dean Anderson for the sole purpose of starring in MacGyver, then it wrote, directed, produced and filmed the entire series on its own without a crew.


5) Fulgurite specimen

A fulgurite would be a great gift for almost anyone whose desk at work isn’t already festooned with random crap like a sandstone sculpture, a Stirling Engine, small ceramic owls and plants.

Not a picture of a fulgurite

I turned to noted fulgurite blogger and all-around highly-educated person Anne Marie Helmenstine PhD to explain fulgurites.  She says the following: “The word fulgurite comes from the Latin word fulgur, which means thunderbolt. A fulgurite  or “petrified lightning” is a glass tube formed when electricity strikes sand. Usually fulgurites are hollow, with a rough exterior and smooth interior. Lightning from thunderstorms makes most fulgurites, but they also form from atomic blasts, meteor strikes and from man-made high voltage devices falling onto the ground.”

I haven’t been around any atomic blasts or meteor strikes lately but still, I wanted a fulgurite, so my wife got one for me for Christmas from somewhere on line.  Some fulgurites look like coral, or a tree root, or a section of someone’s small intestine that has been worked over with an APC.  I think mine looks like a piece of dinosaur poop.

Small ceramic owl feeling a bit sheepish because it is posing with a fulgurite that looks like a piece of  dinosaur poop
This is just wrong somehow

The best way to display your fulgurite is to place it in some other natural formation such as a sandstone sculpture.  I happen to have a sandstone sculpture so I tried placing my fulgurite in it, but I don’t know.  It just didn’t work out like I thought it would.

The fulgurite looks more like that thing that I thought was Moby Dick in the snow globe featured in my last column.  That thing  turned out to be an Exogorth Space Slug.

Art is like that sometimes.


6) Dress-up Bigfoot

I bought one of these to give to my son-in-law, at the same time proclaiming loudly to anyone who would listen, that I too would like one.  Who wouldn’t? And here it is!

Dress-up Bigfoot  caught in wild state
Dress-up Bigfoot sure as hell NOT posing for cover of GQ











I’m particularly impressed by the fact that his basketball shoes are the same colour.

I’m sure you can think of hundreds of different uses for this thing.  If you can, let me know because I can only think of one use for it: put it in my office alongside all the other junk including a Lego Ghostbusters car, which made my boss peer at me dubiously the first time he saw it.

ghostbusters car.jpg


7) Stirling Engine (since you asked)


The thing sitting on top of the cup is a Stirling Engine, which is a closed-cycle regenerative heat engine with a permanently gaseous working fluid.  In other words, this is a bitchin’ little gadget you can set on top of a cup of hot coffee and watch for the next three hours until the wheel stops spinning. Note: your coffee will be cold at this point.

You can get it as a kit from Lee Valley.  It’s the perfect gift for a mechanically-minded person.  Especially if they already own a Starbucksology mug.  Or you could get them the Stirling Engine AND a Starbucksology mug.  And an oat fudge bar.

Look it’s only January 6th.  You have lots of time to consider your options.  There are still 353 days until Christmas.  Unless you own a time machine.

Rod Taylor In 'The Time Machine'
Time Machine offered for sale by Hammacher Schlemmer circa 1849 but hastily withdrawn after almost all the machines in stock vanished simultaneously with a blinding flash of light, leaving behind an unidentified foul odor


Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical

One thought on “Third Annual Lateral Thinking Department Christmas Gift Guide

  1. Merry Ukraine Christmas. Not sure where you get your nutty ideas, but they are humongous!

    Sent from my iPad



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