Some Nifty Christmas Gift Ideas From the Space Age

Dec. 25 is approaching at the speed that Metro Rail trains used to run. Luckily for you, I buried myself in the catalog for this weekend's Space & Aviation Memorabilia Auction and found these nifty gift ideas:

* For that rock gardener in the family, a tool used by astronauts to pluck items off the lunar surface (estimated value: $3,500-$5,000) (see photo).

* For a fruitcake substitute, how about a never-used container of "Shuttle Dehydrated Food (Potatoes Au Gratin, 3 oz. hot water, heat 5-10 minutes)." No expiration date on the outside ($100-$150).

* And may we suggest "a padded jet aircraft ejection seat complete with seat belt" for the frustrated driver who can't find a parking spot ($500-$700).

* Most exciting of all: The auction, held by Aurora Galleries in Bell Canyon (just west of West Hills), will also include a piece of Soviet space memorabilia, a "Sputnik Pulse Tester," described as "an unusual battery-powered gadget ...

"There is a hole in the front of the black plastic base into which one places a finger. The unit then apparently checks your pulse. We don't see any place for the read-out (perhaps the silver Sputnik on top glows red if your pulse is too high or perhaps it gives a shock or calls the KGB -- who knows?)" ($250-$350).


Speaking of scary stuff: Mavis Medley of Manhattan Beach happened to walk by an unsettling Halloween site -- guess you'd call it a haunt-a-potty (see photo).


On the employment front...: Henry Montanez noticed that a homeowners group was looking for a hunky maintenance supervisor -- it's in Malibu, of course. And Don Rueter saw an ad that, he observed, involved true working-breed dogs (see accompanying).


miscelLAny: Last week, I published a for sale ad for a Hancock Park mansion that said it was "on park-like gourds." Gary Weinstein of North Hollywood wonders if its athletic facilities include a squash court.


Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, Ext. 77083; by fax at (213) 237-4712; by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012; and by e-mail at

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