There Is No Cat

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Best Gift of the Season

The season of presents is over.

Of all the presents this year, I think my favorite was one that I gave my wife for our anniversary.

But wait a minute, you say (if you know us), you got married in April, didn't you?

Well, yeah, but I gave my wife her anniversary present in December, thereby subverting the whole idea of getting married in April so that my poor December-born bride would have a gift-receiving opportunity that wasn't overshadowed by Christmas.

I thought my original idea was really good. I saw this rug in a British home design magazine:

Let's Cha Cha rug

It fit perfectly with the black & white retro look we're going for with our living room. It had a touch of whimsy, perfect for a couple of goofballs like us. The dance steps on the rug played nicely off of my wife's passion for dance and of the fact that she'd been buying old dance instruction books on eBay. And the fact that the rug was called "Let's Cha Cha" was a nice reference to the fact that our first dance at our wedding reception was a cha cha. Perfect.


I contacted the company in China that designed the rug. They didn't have a U.S. distributor yet, but had one company identified that they were probably going to be working with. I contacted the U.S. company. They expected the rug in a couple of months. So when our anniversary came, I told Laura what I was getting her, but that it was taking a little longer than expected. Being the kind, understanding soul that she is, she said that it was okay.

Anyway, to make a long story short, after many months of trying, it became clear that the rug was never going to be available, and that I still owed my devoted wife an anniversary present.

Around the time I came to this conclusion, I was talking with one of my friends at work, and the name of a guy we used to work with came up. She mentioned that our friend had been on national television a year or so ago demonstrating an unusual talent. He's an accomplished artist on the Etch-A-Sketch.

Immediately, I connected the two, and came up with the idea of getting my wife an etching as a (belated) anniversary gift.

So I contacted Keith Drake, my old co-worker, to ask if he was still doing the etchings. Sure enough, he was, so I sent him a JPEG of one of our favorite wedding photos from our wedding at the beach:

Ralph and Laura kissing on a jetty at the beach

He said it would be a suitable image for an etching, and we were off. A few weeks and a couple hundred dollars later, I had this gift for my lovely wife:

Etch-A-Sketch rendering of the previous photograph

The gift was a hit. Laura loves it. And all of the other people we've shown it to (my brother and his fiancee, Laura's parents, her brother and sister-in-law and their kids) were impressed and amused. Our niece seemed awestruck when we showed it to her the other day.

Keith developed a process to fix the images permanently by removing the aluminum powder and glass balls inside the apparatus, and locking the knobs. He suggests that you treat it the way you would treat fine china to prevent the image from being damaged. In other words, don't force the knobs, and don't shake it and drop it and stuff and it'll be fine.

Keith has a web site where you can see some of his other work in this unusual medium.

Posted at 1:21 PM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Wow! That is super spiffy. :)

Posted by sis at 8:22 PM, January 3, 2006 [Link]

That is utterly amazing. I only hope that you don't encounter a New Jersey earthquake anytime soon.

Posted by Mamacita at 5:19 PM, January 5, 2006 [Link]

wow... that is incredible! what an amazing gift.

Posted by deb at 3:52 AM, February 9, 2006 [Link]


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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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