My father-in-law's birthday is coming up, and Bert suggested getting him a TV/VCR/DVD combo, so that he can watch all of the videotapes he has from some educational lecture series he has, and also for the few DVD's he and his wife have. Unfortunately, MIL positively shrieked "No! Nonono!" over the phone with Bert, so that idea is obviously a bust. She then suggested, via e-mail, that we should send FIL a short-sleeved shirt from big outdoorsy retailer. Is it just me, or is the idea of sending one's FIL a shirt somehow akin to sending him, I dunno, underwear? Granted, there are different levels of familiarity implied here, but, a shirt?
I offered to knit him a hat or a scarf once, but I was told he wouldn't wear it, and Bert is concerned that a few CD's of Theodore Bikel might never get a listen and/or a book by Paul Krugman might likewise sit unread. He did get a big kick out of a coffee mug I found one year, one with the caffeine molecule printed on it (FIL is a retired chemistry professor), and he likes another mug with the periodic table of the elements, but what on earth to send this year?
Any ideas for something useful for a semi-reclusive 80 year old who digs math, Shakespeare and diet soda? I'd like to send another coffee mug, one custom-printed with an image from the Library of Congress' Works Progress Administration archives, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to scale it for either Zazzle or CafePress.