It’s been quite the rainy day here in Phoenix for Christmas, which is fine, since we spent the day indoors anyway. Certainly, we can always use the rain.
A couple of amusing stories so far this year, starting with my gift to Irene. Recently, I was really, really stretching to think of a gift for Irene when I came across the weekly David Pogue technology video for the New York Times, talking about the Flip MinoHD, a flash memory-based HD camcorder. Pogue gave it quite a good review, which is what got me thinking about it. My wife really should be shooting more video of the kids, but our existing camcorder is totally inconvenient to carry around. This seemed like a perfect compromise.
This is not a high-end HD camcorder. The compression is noticeable, and the CCD is of the inferior type that can produce “bending” artifacts if you move too quickly. I reported on this same phenomena with my iPhone’s still camera. (It has to do with the speed of the data being read off the CCD, and the pattern that it reads the data in. If the objects moves before the CCD has dumped the data as it moved from top left to bottom right, the object appears to be bent.
This same effect occurs on the MinoHD. Still, for the price, about $200, you get a tiny camcorder, solid-state, with 1 hour recording capacity. It plugs right into your Mac (or PCs, I’m told) and you pull the clips right off. It’s charged via the USB connection that “flips” out (hence the name).
I got the camera a couple weeks ago, and, thinking about it, decided that my wife would want to use it on Christmas morning, so I unboxed it, and I charged it, set the date and time, made a few test videos (Deciding if I should send it back, which, ultimately, I did not) and then carefully repackaged the box and wrapped it for Christmas. When we got our tree, it was the first present under it.
Then I got to thinking, “The kids are going to want to open their presents first, indeed, it will be difficult to hold them back. Then, there’s the excitement of seeing all those presents under the tree. Surely, we want to guarantee that the camcorder is open and ready before the kids wake up.”
Come last evening, after the kids were in bed, I insisted that Irene open her present on Christmas Eve. She balked at the idea, but I insisted, so she say down, carefully unwrapped the present. Inside was the MinoHD box, which is noticeably similar to an iPod box. She opened the box and there, inside was…
…an empty box!!!!!
I was flabbergasted. I ran to my office and started searching frantically. Sure enough, I had forgotten to put the camera back in the box when I packed it up. At least Irene had a good sense of humor about it, and it was funny. I am glad the kids weren’t there, though.
And then there’s my sneaky daughter.
My dad had gathered from Michelle that she’d like some Ultraman/Godzilla stuff. My dad searched online and found a store that had some imported Japanese toys. He asked me which ones they had and which ones I thought they’d like. She’d already got most of the Ultramen figures that she knows, except for Ultraseven X, which I suggested. I also suggested Godzilla and Mothra figures in the same scale as the Ultramen. So my dad ordered them.
I poked around the website and found some other Godzilla toys in plush figures, so I decided to pick up one each for the kids, a Godzilla and a Rodan.
When the toys my dad ordered arrived, he decided that he wanted to split them up and give one to James, so I suggested Mothra for him. (Michelle has some plastic insects which she already pretend are Mothra, and James feels left out.) I figured that I’d give James the plush Godzilla, since Michelle was getting the other Godzilla, and give her Rodan, since James was getting a different flying monster.
Instead of wrapping them, Irene wanted to use them as stocking stuffers, so, as we went to bed last night, I carefully placed Rodan in Michelle’s stocking, peaking out, and Godzilla in James’, peaking out.
This morning, to Michelle’s credit, she woke up well before Irene or I, and she didn’t open her presents (she’d been warned) and she didn’t wake us up – but the second any noise came from our bedroom, she was in next to our bed like a shot.
“Santa’s been here! Santa’s been here! he put a Godzilla in my stocking and he put a Rodan in James’ stocking!!!”
Bleary eyed and still asleep, I was thinking, “What? That’s backwards.”
Sure enough, when I came out, someone (I wonder who?) had swapped them in the stockings.
I thought long and hard about that, because it was obviously dishonest of her, and she didn’t know she was getting a Godzilla when my dad arrived. Finally, I tried this gambit: “You know, Michelle, the Godzilla and Rodan weren’t from Santa. Actually, I got those for you and I put Rodan in your stocking and Godzilla in James’. I don’t know what happened, maybe Santa accidentally knocked them out and didn’t know which one to put each one back in and they got swapped.”
Michelle thought for a moment – you could really see the gears turning – and said, “I’ll put them back.” And she swapped them back.
Perhaps she learned from that one.
Homemade Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding for Christmas dinner, plus the Next Doctor. Review coming soon.