[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #33                12-8-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 . You may share this magazine with your friends under the   .
 . condition that the magazine remain complete and intact,   .
 . with no editing, revisions or modifications of any kind,  . 
 . and including this opening section and statement.         .
 . If you like the magazine, our Sysop and I would appreciate.
 . it if you would let your friends know where they can log  .
 . in to find the magazine (and incidentally one of the      .
 . finest BBSs in the country!).                             .
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                            (c) 1986

   How frustrating! Here we are in the Chr.shtmlas season - and 
with an announcement in the last issue that YOUR ideas for gift 
giving were needed - and only one came in.
   Oh well. Maybe new studies will show that a glutting from 
turkey kills the imagination, huh? Or maybe everyone is so lost 
when it comes to shopping that this will be the most valuable 
issue we've ever done?
   It's not too late to contribute. Obviously. That's part of the 
purpose here. Let's make good use of the magazine board for the 
next couple of weeks. Share your ideas, revelations and so forth. 
   Or maybe you know of some special sales going on. 
   Or of some unique items that are available.

                     The Gifts of Chr.shtmlas

     It's not always easy to figure out something to give at 
Chr.shtmlas. Quite often you might find yourself giving up (oooo, 
what a lousy pun) and then buying a sweater or bottle of perfume 
or something else that is nice but not imaginative.
     There is an old saying, "It is better to give than to 
receive." There should be a corollary to that - "It is better to 
give imaginatively." That makes it more fun all the way around.
     That doesn't mean to get carried away with yourself. Just 
because the other person likes the color blue doesn't mean that 
you should give a bucket of paint. (On the other hand, that might 
be the perfect gift! A can of paint and a paint brush to change 
the color of a bedroom - and your own time to do the painting.) 
You have to temper your imagination with some sense.
     Another important factor is cost. How much can you afford to 
spend? $5? $20? $100? $1000? More? (Sheesh!)
     If finances aren't the problem, you're wide open. Buy her a 
new car. Give her a new home out in the country. 
     Not quite so wealthy? How about a new stereo? Or a TV and 
VCR? Maybe even a computer and modem?
     Still too rich for your blood and wallet? Not to worry. How 
about $50 in rolls of pennies? (100 rolls of pennies makes an 
impressive - and weighty - gift.)
     Or a complete album collection of her favorite musical artist 
or group?

                           Unique Gifts

     A traditional and relatively inexpensive Chr.shtmlas gift for 
someone who is a distance away is a photograph - or set of 
photos. (One year, for my parents, I made up a complete book, 
including text. With the help of my brother and sister, I tracked 
down some old family photos to give it all a sense of history. It 
then moved forward to the present.)
     Want something dramatic? How about a large print? An 11x14 or 
even a 16x20? If you have a good negative (35mm or preferably 
larger) making even a poster-sized print isn't horribly expensive.
     For something unique, there is a growing trend towards 
"boudoir photography." Technically this term means "a lady's 
private quarters." Many of the local boudoir portraitists will not 
work with male clients. Very few will work with a couple. Most 
have strict ethical guidelines regardless of the client. Even so, 
a few phone calls could find you the right person for the job.
     It's also entirely possible to have the job done by a friend. 
You can even do it yourself by using the camera's self-timer.
     A variation on the photo idea is a video tape. You may not 
own a video camera, but perhaps you know someone who does. You can 
also rent one. You can even hire someone to make the tape, 
although this can get rather expensive. (If you're interested, I 
can name two people who will do a fine job for less than other 
professional services - Ben Avechuco and myself. We've even talked 
about having special rates for students and/or Zephyr users.)     
In my case, the relatives on my side of the family are all about 
2000 miles away. Only my parents have seen our new house and the 
area. They've seen our new son just one time, when he was just 2 
months old.
     With the help of a friend (Ben Avechuco) we did a complete 
"documentary" on video tape. With Ben taping and me leading the 
way and talking, we walked through the house, took a drive around 
the area, and did plenty of taping of the new son in all his 
     You can vary this to suit. It's easy, for example, to arrange 
a fake news interview, with you as the news item. "The big news in 
Phoenix this season is Joe Schmoe who has just announced that his 
left big toe has been registered with Ripley's Believe It Or Not. 
We were lucky enough to get an interview with the local 
     Maybe you want something more personal. How 'bout a film of 
you taking a hot and steamy bath. "I sure wish you were here, 
     You can even do a duet with you and your sweetie - you pay 
the costs, but both of you have something to treasure.
     The nice thing about making a video is that it can be dubbed 
over and over for relatives in different places. It will always be 
unique and something that the receiver cannot get anywhere else. 
And you can always have a copy of it for yourself. If it's a one-
time or single person gift (one of those personal things that only 
the other person will see), the cost per copy goes up since there 
are only one or two copies (unless you have your own equipment, of 
     The cost will vary greatly depending on what you want and 
need. If you already own (or can borrow) a video camera, and have 
2 VCRs available for the dubbing, your total cost is just that of 
the tape (about $5 each - pretty cheap). If you have the camera 
but only 1 VCR, you can rent the second for as little as $3 for a 
full day, and make as many as 12 2-hour dubs (or 24 1-hour, or 48 
1/2-hour, etc.).
     Check around for a rental camera. Figure about $50 minimum 
for a day's rental. Possibly more. Definitely more if you also 
need lights.
     Third choice would be to hire someone to handle the camera 
work. There are various companies around who can do it for 
various rates. How much you pay depends on a number of things. 
How long? How well planned? Props? Special lighting? What kind of 
thing do you have in mind? And how good is the cameraman? (You 
get what you pay for, essentially, but don't be fooled by someone 
who charges a high fee simply out of greed or a false sense of 
self value.) 
     Once again, if you think something like this might be of 
interest, let me know.

     Still another variation on the theme is to have a portrait 
painted. You probably won't be able to afford a top-notch 
professional. But there are plenty of highly talented art students 
who would love to earn an extra $50 or so for Chr.shtmlas.
     When hiring a photographer, it's always best to look at some 
samples of the person's work. When it comes to hiring an artist, 
viewing samples becomes critical. If you're after a portrait in 
oil, don't be satisfied with just a pencil sketch as a sample. 

                          "Timely" Gifts

     If you flat out can't afford much (hey, it happens), you 
still have two commodities - time and yourself. You can even draw 
up a "Gift Certificate" for your time. 
     "This Certificate good for one house cleaning."
     "This Certificate good for one full day of pampering."
     You can even find booklets of certificates along those lines 
(or you can make one). 
     There are times when giving of yourself is the most valuable 
and most appreciated gift, even if you can afford more. As a 
simple example, make arrangements with her roommates to get into 
the apartment while she's at work. Clean the place - maybe even 
decorate it or give it some kind of theme. Then cook up a fancy 
dinner (or an unfancy dinner), complete with desert and put 
yourself into the role of a waiter. You can even add a touch of 
humor to it by having a "waiter costume" that you switch in and 
out of, depending on whether you are serving, or sitting as the 
dinner companion.
     Do you have friends who don't know what to give you? Get 
them involved, too. Tell them that the gift you want is a bit of 
their time. Depending on your friends, you can get really carried 
away with things if you want. 
     Let's change the scene and make it in your own apartment. 
This gives you plenty of time to set things up. You go pick her 
up and bring her back to the apartment. Your friends watch so 
that you are met at the door by someone, maybe someone with a 
fake accent. You are then escorted inside and seated. Your 
"waiter" brings a fake menu. Another group of friends makes up 
the entertainment while you eat. Singing, dancing, whatever. 
Afterwards, they all gracefully and quietly disappear so that the 
evening ends romantically with just the two of you. If your 
relationship is more intimate, it might end with a long and 
tender massage with warmed and scented oil. (This is a terrific 
way to end things if the "gift" is being given by a girl to her 
boyfriend or husband!) 
     Stretch your imagination and you just might find that this 
is one of the best gifts you've ever given - and the best gift 
you've ever given to yourself.
     The meal itself can be simple or fancy, depending on how 
much you can afford. You have to eat anyway, so the actual cost 
is rather minor. And you'd be surprised at what you can do with 
just a couple of dollars.
     For example, how about serving individual game hens? That's 
fancy, and classy. It's also very inexpensive. Basha's has them 
on sale right now for $1.69 each. So, for about the cost of a Big 
Mac you can have "squab." And they're not hard to cook. Instruc
tions are on the bag, usually (375 for an hour). A box of 
stuffing (about $1) adds even more class. Instant potatoes are 
fairly decent these days if you don't have the time or inclina-
tion to make the "real" things (another $1, maybe). Warming up a 
can of green beans is easy (and cheap - Basha's has those on sale 
right now, too - S&W at 33c per can). For a simple desert, maybe 
some chocolate pudding in individual glasses - or ice cream the 
same way.
     Total cost of the dinner for two - less than $5.
     You know the person. This may not be appropriate as a 
Chr.shtmlas gift, as such. But it sure makes a nice added touch, 
for any time of year. Maybe the "real" gift can be there, and 
given afterwards. 

     An old tradition was to extend the Chr.shtmlas season over a 
period of time. Ten days before Chr.shtmlas, for example, you give 
her something small. The next day the gift is a little better, 
and the next better yet - and so on, building to that big and 
wonderful gift at Chr.shtmlas. You can even extend it beyond 
Chr.shtmlas, with the level of gifts going back down again.
     If you don't want to deliver a package each day, deliver 
them all at once, with each package dated.
     This kind of thing is a wonderful way to exercise your 
imagination. If day 1 is a candy bar, day 2 might be a McDonald's 
gift certificate, then day 3 might be a decorative wreath. You 
can stick in ideas all your own. Maybe a picture of yourself. Or 
a hand-made gift certificate of your own (back to the "This 
Certificate Good for One House Cleaning" or such things). If her 
family is a long way away, maybe one day you can give cash with a 
note - "Call Home." Dated for Chr.shtmlas Eve the package might 
contain a stocking stuffed with goodies.
     This sort of thing *can* get rather expensive. That depends 
on you. Stretch your mind and imagination and needn't cost all 
that much.

                          Hiding a Gift

     When Cindy and I first married we couldn't afford rings. All 
of our income went for the necessities, and we were both logical 
and rational enough to realize that food on the table and the 
ability to pay the bills was more important than a symbol and a 
     A few years later we were in much better shape. The rings 
and diamond made up a part of the Chr.shtmlas gifts. Cindy didn't 
know anything about it. I even got the measurement of her finger 
while she was sleeping.
     Her sister got in on it. At my request she "let it slip" 
that I was buying Cindy a sewing machine. In keeping with that, I 
took a large box, set in two concrete piers, and framed them in 
place with wood so they wouldn't move. 
     But the rings weren't in the box. Instead I had an envelope. 
In the envelope was a note to Cindy saying that I culdn't afford 
anything better, but maybe we could sell the enclosed story and 
buy her something nice with that. I made sure that the story was 
just about the worst thing I could possibly write.
     At the end of the story one of the characters said, "Cindy 
your real gift is in the office under the green box." Trouble 
was, she was a bit upset by this time (the story WAS stupid!) and 
she missed the point entirely. I had to point it out to her. 
     Eventually I got her into the other room and to lift the 
box. And there were the rings.
     In short, it nearly backfired on me. I could have prevented 
the problem by not getting so complicated with it - maybe by just 
putting the rings in the box.
     A typical and traditional way to package something small is 
to simply put it in a larger box. A modification of this is to 
put a box in a box in a box in a box in a box. 
     To hide it even more, you can put in things that make 
sounds. Like silverware or marbles inside a glass. If you do it 
carefully, you can even arrange things inside so that something 
will break if the package is shaken. (We did this with my father 
one year - he's a well known package shaker. The sound of 
something shattering inside the box nearly cured him.)

                             In Short

     I could very easily make this the largest Zephyr Magazine 
every put out. For that matter, we could go on and on through the 
rest of the year until next Chr.shtmlas - especially if the rest of 
you get involved and kick in some ideas and personal experiences.
     The trick is to use your imagination. You know that other 
person. Maybe he or she would appreciate the unusual gift of 20 
cases of Coca Cola. Or $75 in McDonald's gift certificates. Maybe 
a supply of photographic film would be more appropriate - or 100 
rolls of sewing thread. How about 100 Snicker's bars for the 
chocolate lover, each separately boxed and wrapped? 
     There are always the standards - sweaters, books, and etc. 
Those are good things to fall back on when your own imagination 
gives out. Meanwhile, do some thinking. RATIONAL thinking. (If you 
like to go fishing, giving her a dozen cans of worms is probably 
not what you'd call an appropriate gift.)
     The idea isn't to give YOUR idea of the perfect gift but the 
RECEIVER'S idea of a perfect gift. Letting your imagination flow 
is wonderful and can turn what could be something ordinary into 
something unforgettable. If not properly directed, it can also 
ruin the entire thing.
     The old adage, "It's not the gift but the thought that 
counts," is very true. If you can't put the proper thought into 
it, stick with something less imaginative but that is bound to be 
appropriate. If you can get out of yourself and into the other 
person, then a sprinkling of imagination and thought can turn the 
gift into something truly unique. (If the gift isn't, maybe the 
method of presenting it can be.) 

Until Next Time

   I just have to say it. A bit of editorializing.
   Most of us on the board here have things pretty good. It may 
not seem like it at times, but we really do.
   Look at the statistics. At present about 20% of all Americans 
live at or below the poverty level. A third come very close to 
being functionally illiterate, which means that the ranks of the 
jobless and homeless will be increasing. It already is, and it's 
getting worse. Reagan's newest announcement says that if some 
indigent elderly couple can't afford medical treatment - tough 
tookies. Their social security and pensions will be locked up 
until the ohsopoor doctors and hospitals are paid. 
   We don't see it here. Back east where the weather is cold, 
you'll find countless stories of people who are found starved and 
frozen to death because they can't afford food or the utility 
   There are certainly people on welfare who are fully capable of 
supporting themselves. I have no patience with people who can work 
but don't because the particular job is "beneath me."
     Even so, there are many people out there - Americans! - who 
are literally starving to death and who cannot help themselves. 
That's real easy to forget when your stomach is full and you're 
sitting contentedly in front of a fire in the fireplace playing 
with the new computer you got for Chr.shtmlas, and maybe a bit too 
warm because you're wearing that new sweater.
     So stick $5 in the Salvation Army bucket. Or give a few cans 
of food to St. Vincent de Paul. Or invite someone to Chr.shtmlas 
dinner who can't get home and who has no local family.
     There are so many things you can do, and for very little, 
that will make Chr.shtmlas for someone else. Can't afford to give 
even a 30c can of food? No problem. Visit one of the many homes 
for the elderly and indigent, or the orphans. 
     There has been a lot of talk on the Public board about 
loving America. If you're one of those who does, why not spend a 
few hours with a disabled vet?
     Want a real education? Spend a few hours ringing a bell for 
donations for the poor. Watch the fat and healthy people walk on 
by, or who drop in a dime and smile that their duty is done and 
all sins cured.
     It's often a thankless task. The can of food goes unnoticed. 
A typical reaction is that if the donation goes unnoticed and - on 
the surface - unappreciated, what's the worth? Everyone wants 
recognition. But tell your friends that you shoved $5 into Santa's 
bucket and you might get a grimmace at best.
     So what? 
     If you have to brag about it, forget it. (Have you ever had 
someone give you a gift and then go on and on about how wonderful 
they are for giving it? Kinda takes the meaning from it.)

     Well, I sure hope everyone here on the board has a wonderful 
Chr.shtmlas and New Year. And thank all of you for making BBSing so 
much fun for me. 

     M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S    E V E R Y O N E ! ! !

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.