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Helpful hints for Father’s Day shopping

About three times a year (my birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day) all my kids contact my wife and ask her for gift ideas for me. Usually those gifts wind up coming in an envelope – gift cards, usually from Williams-Sonoma because I’m a great fan of kitchen toys, expensive things I use two or three times and then put away because there’s no room for all of them on the counter.

And that’s cool. I enjoy those things for the week or two before I put them up.

And they’re far, far more fun than the neckties so many fathers get for all three of those special days.

But I’ve decided it’s about time to expand my horizons. And, luckily, I’ve found an organization dedicated to helping solve exactly this problem.

The membership of the international organization known as D.O.N. (Dads Opposed to Neckties) met recently to discuss gift ideas for today’s father. I’m going to share it with you in the hope that it will help you solve the problem I suspect you share with me. And you’ll notice I’m sharing it in plenty of time for you to go do your shopping or, if you’re the dad, send the list to all concerned.

Here’s the list:

1. A new tool kit. Granted, most of us have more tools than Carter has pills. But therein lies the rub. Tools are like kids … the more you’ve got, the harder they are to keep up with. These new kits have nifty molded cases that hold the pliers and screwdrivers and such in place. When you’re ready to close the case, you can see at a glance whether your 9/16ths wrench has walked away again.

2. An extra 9/16ths-inch wrench. For some reason science has yet to determine, 9/16ths-inch wrenches go AWOL more often than anything else in the toolbox. It pays to keep at least one spare.

3. A cordless air pump. Gone are the days when you had to plug your tire pump into the cigarette lighter to air up a flat tire. Now you can get a cordless job that’s a ton more convenient. It also can be used as a battery pack for anything that can get power from a cigarette lighter plug.

4. A personal air conditioner. There’s a little evaporative cooler that fits around the back of your neck. It uses water and a little battery-powered fan to cool you down on a hot tractor or a golf cart. It beats the heck out of a wet towel.

5. An all-purpose tool. The Leatherman company is probably the best-known purveyor of this toolbox-on-a-belt, but lots of other companies make good ones, too. They’ve got everything from pliers to screwdrivers to files. In a pinch, you could probably overhaul an F-16 with one of these babies. Or at least tie up your muffler with baling wire.

6. Baling wire. Do they still make baling wire?

7. A good pocketknife. Yes, we realize this is redundant — that an all-purpose tool has a knife blade included. But the members of D.O.N. think of pocketknives the way Imelda Marcos thinks of shoes: You can never have too many.

8. A good butcher knife. Most kitchens have a butcher knife, but very few have a good one. A cheap knife is a dull knife, and the guys in D.O.N. won’t abide a dull knife. If you decide to buy a good butcher knife, plan to go to a good kitchen-supply store and roll out some serious money. It will run you $50 at the very bottom end.

9. A tool belt. It’s hard enough for us to keep up our Wranglers, even before we start stuffing tools in our pockets on a Saturday morning. A tool belt won’t lighten the load, but it’ll spread it around some.

10. A folding lounge chair. Nowadays you can even get them with a built-in footrest and a can holder. Kinda wish I’d had this in time for the Summer Sounds concert in Murfreesboro last Thursday.

David Sullens is president of Roanoke-Chowan Publications and publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and the Gates County Index.