For those tripping over the multitude of wires from their cell phone or portable CD/MP3 player, or just trying to carry mobile devices from A to Z, then Chicago lawyer Scott E. Jordan may have invented the perfect holiday gift for you in the form of his patented "Scott eVest."
Somewhat like the famous photojournalist vest or the standard multi-pocket fishing vest, the eVest hopes to find a market niche for executive wear for the busy business traveler who needs a host of devices to stay connected to the office and to their respective business data.
The garment is a lightweight, 15 pocket vest that allows wearers to hold -- and in some cases conceal inside the jacket -- phones, PDA's (personal digital assistant), foldout keyboards, CD players, pagers, digital cameras and micro cassette recorders, to name various devices that have become part of the modern worker's accoutrement. The inside of the vest boast a conduit system with includes Velcro attachments to allow for stowing device wires to keep them out of the way.
"The Scott eVest is revolutionary," said Jordan, who has founded Technology Enabled Clothing, LLC around his vest. "This is the first fully functional garment for the high-tech age. This garment is the final step in making today's mobile technology comfortably work for everyone."
Jordan has hired Rebecca Scott, former Playboy Bunny and Miss August 99, as the official spokesperson for the eVest to "show just how fashionable you can be while carrying your gadgets."
A bit pricey even at its holiday sale price of $99 (compared to around $50 for the average fishing vest), the eVest comes in black and khaki, and is made of a soft, lightweight, water-repellent fabric in sizes from M to XXL.
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
A year ago, so many tourists packed the Torcuato Tasso Tango Dance Hall in Buenos Aires every night that dancers were allowed on the floor in shifts to make sure each couple had sufficient space for the tango's complicated glides and twirls.
This past weekend, the famous hall was nearly deserted. First it was the widespread unease about travel following the Sept 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, then the mounting political unrest in Argentina -- climaxing in last week's violent demonstrations in Buenos Aires itself to protest the Argentine government's draconian austerity measures.
The sad result: the bottom has fallen out of Argentina's tango industry.
As interest in the tango had become a worldwide phenomenon, foreigners flocked to the tango mecca. According to a recent report by Argentina's leading Clarin newspaper, tango sales total $180 million a year from tourism and tango CDs. Experts were projecting sales of $400 million over the next three years -- or about half of the country's current meat exports.
Armando Greco, a co-owner of the Torcuato, said attendance by Argentines had dropped 40 percent this year because of the economic crisis, and now the week of riots in which protesters fought police, looted stores, and burned cars scared away foreign tango tourists.
"I know people at my hotel who left the country because of what happened. I also have friends back in Holland who were supposed to come here at this particular moment and who canceled their flights," said tango tourist Fred van der Lee from the Netherlands, who planned to buck the trend and stay on in Buenos Aires to dance a while longer.
Greco thinks some Argentines dance the tango to forget the tough times. "During the crisis people need a place to meet, to distract themselves, to get away from the emptiness," he said. "And during an economic crisis many people feel empty."
But it is more a case of providing a musical score to the national mood than lifting the spirit. Among the tango's many definitions, the most fitting seems "A sad thought you can dance."
(Thanks to UPI's Joshua Dylan Mellars in Buenos Aires)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
If old, dry fruitcake becomes the gift that keeps on giving heartburn, don't fret -- scientists say with a little knowledge of chemistry and physics, there may be hope for holiday fruitcake after all.
"The reason fruitcake, or any cake for that matter, goes stale, is because it appears to lose its moisture," said physicist Peter Barham of the University of Bristol in England, author of "The Science of Cooking." But the moisture is not actually lost -- the starch in the cake has simply absorbed it.
Physics has the answers for what you need to do to resuscitate the cake. "You just need to melt the starch crystals," Barham said. The cake should be wrapped in aluminum foil to prevent any moisture from escaping and slowly warmed in an oven to 200 degrees. This melts the crystals, releases the water and refreshes the dry fruitcake.
"While starch begins to lose its crystalline character at 130 degrees, if you have the oven set at that temperature, it's going to melt, but at a much slower speed. Two hundred degrees is still cool, but it will rehydrate the cake a lot faster," explained food science expert Harold McGee in Palo Alto, Calif., author of "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen."
Not that there was necessarily anything wrong with dry fruitcake, McGee quipped. "I'd always been under the illusion that one of the purposes of fruitcake was to encourage the consumption of fluids, and a dry fruitcake is a better excuse to drink and put butter on it," McGee told UPI.
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
A Pakistani newspaper reported Tuesday that suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead.
The Pakistan Observer newspaper said bin Laden died of a serious lung disease in the Tora Bora Mountains earlier this month. The report quoted an unidentified Taliban official who said he attended bin Laden's "low-key funeral."
The source said bin Laden, who suffered from serious lung ailments, died for lack of proper medical care. "The United States will never be able to fulfill its cherished goal of getting Osama dead or alive," the Taliban official said. "Bin Laden died a peaceful, natural death in mid-December and was not killed by U.S. bullets or their bombs."
He said bin Laden was laid to rest with military honors with about 30 close al Qaida associates and Taliban friends attending the funeral. "They included his most trusted bodyguards, family members and some Afghan friends," he said.
Asked whether he could point out bin Laden's grave, the Taliban official said: "I am sure that like other places in Tora Bora that particular place too must have been bombed" beyond recognition by U.S. warplanes.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
In a major cover article, People magazine reports that many of today's young Hollywood stars are following in the footsteps of their counterparts who traveled around the world doing USO shows during World War II.
Julia Roberts joined many in the cast of the new movie "Ocean's 11" recently -- including leading man George Clooney -- to take holiday cheer to fliers at an Air Force Base in Turkey. Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia were also there.
The publication says many stars, and not just from Hollywood, have quietly gone to entertain the troops in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Many went with little fanfare or press reports. They "donned the Bob Hope mantle" in doing so.
By the way, the venerable comedian, now 100 according to some reports, last went on the road with his "gypsies" during the Gulf War.
During the holidays, a plethora of country stars -- including Dwight Yoakam and Neal McCoy -- have gone overseas to entertain. They went to what the Pentagon calls "undisclosed locations."
(Thanks to UPI Feature Reporter Dennis Daily)