Holiday Madness to Gladness

christmas-decorations

What would you say to making holiday gift exchanges a pain free, sure thing ?

Every year our family members shop brick and mortar stores, and scour the Internet to find gifts for each other. We often email wish lists with ideas, and to make it mistake-proof, sometimes there are even links going to the exact item! (I’ve been guilty of this.)

Most often, the same list goes to everyone in the family, so if we don’t check with each other, it’s not unusual for two people to buy the same gift for someone. Duplicates have been re-gifted, returned or traded, but inevitably, everyone smiles and says thanks!

There is at least one person who doesn’t believe in gift lists and buys whatever feels right, regardless of whether someone wants it or not. And at least there’s no chance of duplicates!

For a couple of years I’ve been wanting to try an experiment during the holidays. It’s really a pretty flexible, and potentially stress-free strategy.

I have the best family. Six months ago I asked them to try an experiment for our holiday gift exchange, and this is the year everyone is on board!

The experiment  🙂

Instead of sending out lists of things we want, each person is simply in charge of buying their own presents this year. Each present we buy ourselves will be designated as a gift from another family member. Family members will have no idea what they are “giving.”

lg-k8-v-pdp-d-key-feature-5

For example, I could buy myself a new LG K8V smart phone and wrap it up as a gift from my husband, David. He knows I love technology and gadgets, but he is a self-avowed neo-Luddite and wouldn’t know which features matter to me or what phone I’d want. But if I know I want an LG K8V and I buy it, when I open my gift from David, he will be surprised, and I end up with a perfect present!

For David, it might be a load of lumber to build a new basement stairway at our vacation home. I don’t know a thing about treads and risers, but HE does!

Do you see how this can work?

In all cases, there will still be an element of surprise because no one knows what they are giving to the other recipients. It might even provide insight into the things some of us really like. AND, all clothing will fit; there will be no unwanted duplicates, and whatever a person’s budget is, it will work! Furthermore, we end up buying the same number of presents as usual…or maybe even fewer.

My brother, a retired Sr. Technical Fellow for Boeing, asked, “Can we buy one gift and make it from everyone?”

AND OF COURSE, THAT WORKS!

If you’ve been wanting a big-screen television, or a computer, you can buy it and make it a gift from the whole family. One-stop shopping and you get something you really want and need.

Or maybe you are tired of getting “stuff” and are trying to purge things instead of acquire more possessions? You can buy a bottle of your favorite nail polish, a pound of your favorite coffee, or a new supply of socks or underwear. You get the idea — maybe kind of unglamorous stuff, but things you really want, need and will happily use.

If the thing you love about gift exchanges is the look of surprise on someone’s face, just remember, it can still happen. It’s just that the look of surprise is on “your” face when you see what you’ve given someone!

So, what do you think? Is this a hair-brained idea or a stroke of brilliance? I’ll report back with the results of our experiment whether it’s a success or a bust!

Meanwhile, U.S. residents who leave a response to this post by December 12, 2016, will be eligible to win a new Verizon Smartphone: the LG K8V— a beautiful Android device with a ton of amazing features, including a large 5” HD display, a hands-free “selfie” feature, an SD-slot and removable battery. And it’s a good traveler since it works in more than 200 countries. I’ve been impressed with LG for its amazing color quality, quick charging and ease of use.terri-nakamura-lg-k8v

The winning comment will be chosen by one of my cats. The selection will be posted here, and you’ll need to check to see if you’ve won. I’ll give the winner 2 days to get in touch with me to provide me with mailing information. If I don’t hear from him/her, I’ll move to the next in line.

Who knows? You could end up with your own Christmas gift, courtesy of Verizon 🙂 


 12/12/16 — THE WINNER OF THE LG K8V can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqltzLOQsas
Please contact me with your mailing address!

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UE Boom – 16 hours and counting

View of the beach from Alki Surf Shop, April 2015

View of the beach from Alki Surf Shop, April 2015

My beach bum husband and I agree, there are few things more awesome than hanging out at our store on Alki Beach while the sun is shining.

But one thing that makes it even better is listening to music that puts everyone in a great mood.

We had been using a JBL Flip 2 bluetooth speaker to pipe music out to the sidewalk. The music helps people notice us and entices them to come in. We often see people dancing on the sidewalk before making their way up the steps to our store.

Hand-painted signs on the steps

Hand-painted signs on the steps

Recently, thanks to @TheOnlineMom and #vzwbuzz, I had a chance to try out the UE Boom bluetooth speaker.

The UE Boom is fantastic!

First of all, the 360° design is a cylinder of sound. There is a rich bass and clarity that makes the sound seem almost dimensional. And the capacity for delivering volume is unbelievable. IT. IS. LOUD.

The beauty of a bluetooth speaker is not having to hassle with cables and cords when pairing with a music source.  We had our JBL Flip 2 sitting on an outdoor window shelf, which worked well for its promised 5 hours of battery life.

The plus and minus signs are actual controls for the volume

The plus and minus signs are actual controls for the volume

The UE Boom says its battery lasts for 15 hours.  But, guess what? It’s not really true.

When fully charged, the UE Boom kept playing for 16 HOURS. And would probably have kept going, but I finally needed to go to sleep.

What follows is a look at the endurance test I gave the UE Booms’ battery:

9 AM The UE Boom providing the soundtrack to my work day. There is an impressive spectrum of resonant sound. (I could feel the strings vibrate at the end of “I’m Just a Girl!”)

1 PM In my car, I had to turn off my console because it seemed to interfere with the ability of the iPhone to “speak” to the UE Boom. But once I did, it filled my car with sound. I’d never thought about using a bluetooth speaker in a car before, but it made me think it could be great for people who don’t have bluetooth or USB in their cars.

1:30 PM First stop, Unified Grocers, where I had a chance to meet with Al Burleson. My iPhone and the UE Boom kept playing in my car because I wanted the speaker to be in continuous use.

2:30 PM At Alki Surf Shop, we just started selling some Aloha shirts made in Honolulu by Robert J. Clancy. So we needed a cascading arm for our slat wall as well as some nice hangers. That’s where Grand & Benedict came in. That’s where we buy our store fixtures.

3 PM When I finally arrived at Alki Surf Shop, I swapped out the JBL with the UE Boom for the next 4.5 hours until it was time to head home.

Beside amazing sound quality, the UE Boom has a handy little hanging clip on the top which I used to anchor the speaker to the window frame. That way it couldn’t accidentally fall off and hit someone below. But the clip could effectively allow you to suspend the speaker in the air, emitting sound in all directions. It’s a small but a pretty nice little feature.

The hanging option means it's possible to enjoy 360-degree sound

The hanging option means it’s possible to enjoy 360-degree sound

Another cool option is, you can pair TWO speakers to a single device. That means, if we want to pipe the same music inside the store as outside, we can. And because you can adjust the volume on the individual speakers, you have more music outside than in.

There is a “+” and “-“ on the body, which are graphic elements but also function as the volume controls. They look nice, but they are recessed from the outer surface, and I fear they could become dust collectors. They look like they’d be difficult to clean, so I covered them with a piece of clear packing tape to prevent to keep them free of debris.

7:30 PM I kept the speaker going on my way home, then kept it playing at a low volume throughout the evening.

9 PM The power light apparently turns red when the power is low. By the time I noticed it, it had been going for 12 hours.

The power light turns red when the battery is low

The power light turns red when the battery is low

2 AM I don’t know if the volume made any difference in the battery use, but after 16 hours, I was ready to call it quits. Yes, folks, it continued 16 hours, and maybe would have kept going longer if I’d let it. The UE Boom outlasted my capacity to listen!

The UE Boom is one of the most fun, utilitarian and excellent tech gadgets I’ve had a chance to use. It’s twice as expensive as the JBL, but clearly you get more than three times the speaker. If I’d known about it when I was shopping for a speaker, I would’ve gladly paid the difference. If you’re in the market for a bluetooth speaker, the UE Boom is worth every cent.


Alki Surf Shop: http://alkisurfshop.com/

Terri Nakamura: https://twitter.com/terrinakamura

*vzwbuzz is the social media hashtag used by Verizon Wireless.

A Lime-green Burst of Music and Talk

Charles Horsfall photo by Sheela Santos

Charles Horsfall, photo by Sheela Santos

I’m not a workout fanatic, but I like to walk, so the Plantronics Backbeat Fit wasn’t subjected to the same kind of abuse as someone who does an extreme cardio workout.

That being said, the headphones are easy to set up. For me, it took five minutes or less, including the installation of the Backbeat Fit app.

The first thing I did was try playing a song with the music app, and  I was happy to find the sound quality was crystal clear. I’m not a headphone expert, but already I am thinking this is a great upgrade, and my standard-issued Apple headphones will be buried in my bag for back-up.

There are features for controlling the music with the headphones. Music can be paused and the volume can be adjusted. Unfortunately there is no track skipping functionality. Maybe this is something that can be added in the future.

Plantronics headset photo by Terri Nakamura

Plantronics Backbeat Fit headset, photo by Terri Nakamura

There is a non-adjustable band that wraps around the back of your head and I found it to be comfortable. I didn’t try the arm band, but suspect the same care was taken to ensure comfort and usability.

Making phone calls with the Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones works the way you’d expect. There’s a single button for answering and hanging up. The play/pause button is used to mute a call, and you are notified by a sound when it is on or off. (The button is located on the left headphone, call button on the right).

Holding the call button also allows you to use voice commands, but it isn’t the greatest—at least on the iPhone 5S. I think it has more to do with Siri than anything than any shortcomings of the headphones.

I’m getting some nice feedback from friends, but most of all, it’s great trying out this new gadget.

Plantronics Backbeat Fit photo by Terri Nakamura

Plantronics Backbeat Fit, photo by Terri Nakamura

Guest post by Charles Horsfall, freelance writer

Edited by Terri Nakamura

Photos by Terri Nakamura and Sheela Santos, taken with a Nokia Lumia Icon provided by Verizon Wireless #vzwbuzz