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Gifts for grads, Dads, Moms, and marrieds.

It's that time of year again. That time when you begin meandering puzzlepated through shopping malls looking for just the right gift for the graduate who could use everything, mom and dad who may "have everything" and the June newlyweds.

Meander no more. The Saturday Evening Post has again done the shop-hopping for you. Once more we are sparing you exposure to the epidemic of shopping fever "now going around" and the risk of being "malled" running from shop to shop while hoping for heavenly guidance.

In our selection of new and timely gift ideas you'll find that elusive "just the thing" for Mother's Day (May 13), Father's Day (June 17) and those graduation and wedding occasions ahead. So relax, take your time and take a load off your mind and off your aching feet.

Mother's Helpers

Electric Cooler: Spring picnics can be fun, but sometimes mom may have trouble keeping her cool. After packing the cucumbers and calming the dog, the last thing she needs is to chop ice or discover the hamburger won't fit in a crowded cooler. Of course, dad could help, but then who is going to assemble the grill?

NASA-developed technology comes to the rescue. Sunartic is a portable container that uses thermoelectrics to keep food both hot (up to 150 [deg.] F.) and cold (down to 25 [deg.]F.). It uses a miniature solid-state module that reverses operation much the same as a heat pump. The only moving part is a fan that works off a 12-volt source, such as a car's cigarette lighter. From Brinsdon Corporation, San Carlos, California, Sunarctic sells for around $130.

Calorie Counter: The best way to lose weight is to combine exercise with altered food intake. Though it is fairly easy to monitor an exercise program, mom and other family members may have trouble calculating how many calories they consume. Compucal is an electronic scale that uses computer power to reveal exeactly how many calories are locked up in a single serving of just about any food, including Big Macs and strawberry shortcake. For those on special diets who need to watch their intake carefully, the unit can also expose contents of sodium, carbohydrates, fats and cholesterol. Dietary statistics for more than 700 foods are stored inside. Compucal sells for $140 from The Sharper Image, telephone (800) 344-4444.

Electric Wok: The ideal way to benefit from nutrient-rich spring and summer vegetables is to eat them raw. Yet rawness has its drawbacks: Children may balk at uncooked broccoli, and mom is deprived of showing off her culinary talents. One good compromise is to stir-fry food, a cooking method from the Orient that's done best in a wok. Curved on the sides and flat on the bottom, woks use high bottom heat to cook food quickly without destroying natural textures or flavors. Perfect for cooking everything from Szechwan beef to beef stew, The Farberware Electric Wok comes with a steamer rack, stainless-steel cover and cooking chopsticks. It sells for approximately $86.

Creative Camera: Most family photo albums have many things in common, including poorly focused shots, dimly lit pictures and offbeat expressions ranging from closed eyes to photographic decapitation. Of course, not everyone is destined for professional photography. Neevertheless, technology has finally reached the point that focusing, speed and shutter settings can be fully automated in a 35mm camera. Mom can concentrate on getting baby to smile instead of praying she has the right exposure. The Pentax Sport 35 uses an infrared beam for focusing (it even works in the dark) and features a built-in flash, timer and dust cover. It costs $169.

Versatile Radio: Even when the objective is to get away from it all, there are advantages to keeping informed. For example, a radio stashed away on an overnight camping trip can monitor weather forecasts. The Sony AM-FM ICF-770W portable radio has other civilized advantages for the busy mom on the go. It has a built-in AC cord, receives constant weather updates on a special weather band and even picks up the audio portion of TV stations. No longer need mom miss out on her favorite soaps. It sells for around $55.

Gifts for Dad

Rowing Machine: Most fathers know they should exercise, but they don't have time for a regular aerobics program or even some push-ups. Several excuses for not exercising really are valid. It's discouraging waiting in line at the health clubs or running around the block in a neighborhood populated with barking dogs. Perhaps some home equipment will make dad exercise regularly. Though no machine can provide all that's needed in circulatory-system (aerobic) and muscle-group (anaeorbic) support, the 660 Rowing Machine comes close. Workouts strees back, stomach, arm, shoulder and leg muscles and simultaneously raise the heart rate to 80 percent of maximum. The price: $450 from Amerec, Bellevue, Washington.

Electric Shredder: If dad likes to garden, chances are good he already knows about composting. Compost is a mixture of decayed leaves, grass clippings, twigs, manure and other organic waste (including garbage) that provides an ideal natural fertilizer for all garden produce.

The fastest way to make compost is to shred organic matter and then add it to a "compost heap." However, many gardeners never try even simple composting and rely instead on chemical fertilizers. The Rover Muncher uses an electric motor to shred any lawn and garden waste, including branches up to 3/4-inch thick. No longer must dad burn leaves in the fall; he'll compost them instead. Made in Australia, the Muncher sells for approximately $250 from Hunter Industrial Corporation, Allendale, New Jersey.

Portable Compressor: How many household items need compressed air? Probably more than you think. Car tires, motorcycle and bicycle tires, air shocks, athletic balls and pool toys are just a few everyday articles that depend on air compression. Gas stations still dispense air, but they are not always convenient and some will charge for the service. Until now, dad's only alternatives were expensive tank-type compressors or a hand pump. The Coleman Inflate-All 3 plugs into a car's cigarette lighter and inflates to an impressive 125 pounds per square inch. The price: about $20.

Lightweight Binoculars: As summer vacations, outdoor sporting events and other leisure-time activities lie on the horizon, now may be the time to invest in good binoculars. Whether dad prefers bird-watching or occasional girl-watching, the Jason Model 234 provides seven-power magnification in an eight-ounce, graphite body. Each lens may be focused individually or together for an optimal view. $42.50 from Jason Empire, Inc., Overland Park, Kansas.

Security Ligth: Power failures can happen any time, but spring storms are especially good at darkening homes and buildings. When the lights do go out, it's nice to have a back-up unit handy. Some flashlights will either be sans batteries or discharged when father needs them most, but the Black & Decker SL 2 Spotlighter fits in a special base for constant recharging. A red LED turns green when the power goes off. About $20.

Graduate Gifts

Sturdy Tent: Sleeping under the stars is a fine way to enjoy the great outdoors--until a thunderstorm breaks at three in the morning. When that happens, it pays to have a tent nearby. Tent technology has come a long way in the last few years. Many of today's nylon tents feature an outer shell or "rain fly" for extra water protection, pack well in small containers and are light enough for serious backpacking. The Eureka! Alpine Meadows is a proven design that offers a lot of tent for the money, including a sturdy center loop for extra room and controlled ventilation. Any graduate will be thrilled to have a place of his own. The tent, including fly, sells for $192 from Johnson Camping, Inc., Binghamton, New York.

Compact Telescope: Long, white tubes--the image most people have of telescopes. It's as dated as Telstar. The standard refractor and reflector telescopes that introduced many to astronomy still have their uses, but a more versatile invention has been stealing the limelight lately. It's the catadioptric telescope, an extremely lightweight and compact design well suited for many terrestrial and extraterrestrial applications. The 8-inch C90 Astro Telescope produces as much optical power as a 40-inch refractor telescope. Equally competent at spotting the cloud belts of Jupiter and observing storm clouds on earth, the C90 comes with a finder scope, clock drive and tripod. For graduates who enjoy photography, a camera adapter is extra. The price: $695 from Celestron International, Torrance, California.

Recumbent Bicycle: Just as most people are adjusting to ten-speed bikes, along comes something radically different. At first glance, a recumbent bicycle looks like a welder's mistake. The ten-speed's skinny seat is replaced by something that looks more like a lawn chair, and the entire contraption sits low to the ground. Actually, the design makes good sense. Riders get maximum use from their leg muscles in a reclined position, and wind resistance--normally 50 percent of where cycling power goes--is cut to a minimum. The Infinity 1, an aluminum-frame recumbent, is ideal for avid cyclists. It retails for $699 from Infinity Recumbent Bicycles, Mooresville, Indiana.

Instant Pictures: Instant cameras are crowd pleasers as well as record-keepers. Still, most instant pictures literally do not stack up as well as ordinary prints. Regular film produces thicker pictures with a conspicuous plastic seal that often curl in photo albums. The Kodamatic Champ from Kodak eliminates this problem with new Trim-Print film. Flexible prints peel off a dry backing like mailing labels, producing pictures indistinguishable from lab work. The price for the camera is $29.95.
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Author:Pinella, Paul
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 1984
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