Celebrating a Century of Flying High

Exactly 100 years ago today, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was established as a federal agency. An important predecessor to NASA, the purpose of NACA was to undertake, promote and institutionalize aeronautical research. The agency began just over a decade after the Wright brothers gave the world the unique gift of controlled human flight.

The agency was first created during World War I to coordinate war-related projects. The UK, France, Germany and Russia already had aeronautic committees and it was these agencies that served as models for the American agency. Through its years of research, NACA pioneered aeronautic innovations such as a series of airfoils that are still in use today.

NACA was dissolved on October 1, 1958, when NASA was launched to accelerate the U.S.’s progress in the space race with the Soviet Union.12629_300x300

Delve into all the historic moments of the U.S space program with this personalized book of New York Time articles. Procured from the archives of The Times, the book presents momentous highlights that span the beginnings of the “Space Race” from the first satellite to the potential of commercial space travel. The bound book is personalized with the recipient’s name, making it an ideal unique gift for any aficionado of space flight and exploration.

86424_300x300You can share your love of space with the kids or grandkids with this Pop-up Space Station. This pop-up tent serves as the interplanetary command post for young space explorers. The tent’s four tunnels evoke the sprawling modules of a space station and “dock” with openings in the tent’s walls.

86802_300x300And your small astronauts will marvel at this little remote-controlled astronaut, seemingly out for a spacewalk around the International Space Station. Twin rotors propel him for safe indoor flight. A pair of diode lights in the rocket backpack give the illusion this spaceman is controlling his weightless wandering himself, ideal for a moment of astral wanderlust.

Today, space exploration has moved beyond the efforts of government entities to the private sector. Only time will tell what successes will be met by SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other aeronautic entrepreneurs.

Get Some Shut-eye in the Public Eye

Tomorrow is National Public Sleeping Day. Every February 28th, it’s a day to acknowledge the unique gifts of good physical and mental health gained by getting enough rest. While we don’t recommend sleeping through a meeting with your boss, we do agree that a well-timed nap can do wonders for one’s psyche and well-being.

Too tired to celebrate? Lucky you, we have several unique gifts that will help you enjoy a restful nap on a plane, a train, a park bench or anywhere.

84391_300x300This head-enveloping pillow blocks out noise and light to create a private zone for catching a quick power nap. The pillow allows users to tune out their surroundings, creating a dark, quiet microenvironment ideal for achieving a deep, restful sleep whether stranded in a crowded airport or recharging between meetings at work.

86878_300x300Here’s another wearable pillow that creates a private zone for catching a quick snooze on the go. This ring-shaped pillow covers the eyes and ears, while its breathable band blocks light and muffle noise. This easy-to-carry pillow can also be used as a neck support.

When there’s no headrest available, this travel pillow provides one instantly. Superior to “horse collar” pillows that merely keep the head in one position, it creates an instant side support by sitting on the shoulder while a 3′-long strap wraps comfortably around the opposite wrist, hand, or leg, keeping the pillow in place while your head rests.

84845_300x300So turn off your electronic gadgets, get 20 winks and enjoy the benefits and unique gifts you’ll enjoy when you feel refreshed from that little siesta.

Snow Kidding, It’s Almost Spring

It’s been another brutal winter! But after relentless waves of frigid arctic air and historic depths of snow in the northeast, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that it’s almost over.

This Sunday, March 1, is the meteorological start of spring and the unique gifts the season gives us: soft, warm breezes…longer days…buds promising leaves and flowers soon to come. Nature is nearly ready, but are you ready to shed bulky clothes in favor of lighter, tighter and trimmer garb?

If your well-intended new year’s resolutions to hit the gym frequently have fallen by the wayside, you may find it easier to work out at home. But where to store bulky exercise equipment? We have the solution with a few exclusive-to-Hammacher Schlemmer items that fold away for easy storage when not in use.82354_300x300

This recumbent exercise bicycle folds in seconds to half its set-up size for unobtrusive storage under a bed or in a closet. What’s more, this recumbent model encourages users to sit upright and pedal with correct spinal posture. The bicycle has a menu of workouts and displays your heart rate, exercise time, speed, calories burned, and distance traveled.

83905_300x300For walkers, this motorless treadmill folds to only 14″ high. No tools nor removal of any parts are needed for the walking platform to fold flush with the handlebars to enable storage in a closet or against a wall. The treadmill surface adjusts to four different incline heights, heart rate sensors are built into the handlebars, and it has eight levels of resistance.

84168D_300x300Whether at home or traveling, this portable fitness center provides a rigorous, full-body workout, yet folds to the size of a briefcase. Small enough to fit in an airplane’s overhead bin or store under a bed, the compact gym contains everything needed for intense aerobic, strength, and circuit training. Also included is access to an online fitness community, making it an ideal gift for road warriors who want to maintain a workout routine.

With any of these workout aids, you’ll be ready for spring sports or swimsuit season in no time!

Drone Sales Expected to Soar

With regulations proposed recently by the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial use of unmanned aircraft—commonly known as drones—soon could be flying high.

The FAA’s proposed rules are now open for public comment and are expected to be finalized in 2016.

Don’t expect that any time soon a drone will deliver unique gifts from your favorite online source (Hammacher Schlemmer, of course!), but the new regulations will open the door to widespread use of these small aircraft by real estate agents, Hollywood filmmakers, land surveyors, and photographers.

The FAA also ruled that hobbyists won’t need any certification or licensing for recreational use of drones, although they have issued a framework for safe and legal use.

In keeping with our well-earned reputation for innovation, we were among the first to offer drones to our progressive-minded customers. If you’re looking to send a drone of your own into the skies or you need a unique gift for someone who has just about everything, consider these two options.

12518_300x300This is the flying camera drone that sends live video to a smartphone from up to one third-mile away. A remote controls the aircraft, displaying live video on a smartphone connected to the remote’s dock. Easy to fly, its autonomous flight system manages all four of the drone’s propellers simultaneously, while you focus on taking pictures and video.

A shorter-range choice is this flying camera drone that captures high-definition pictures and video from up to 300′ away. Built-in gyro stabilization keeps the drone level, enabling 86970A_300x300its built-in HD camera to snap video and pictures without undue shaking. A press of a button also sends the drone into a perfectly executed 360° loop.

So whether you’re ready to hop onboard this fantastic flight of technology or whether you’re content to view virtual YouTube magic carpet rides, our minds have only begun to imagine the potential of drones’ unique gifts of flying fantasies. Basic regulations are needed to govern by whom and where drones can be flown in order to prevent mid-air disasters, as well as unwanted surveillance by the government or other entities.

The Key to Your Healthy Heart

February is the season of hearts. There’s Valentine’s Day, of course, and throughout the month, we recognize American Heart Month.

In partnership with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health care professionals, The American Heart Association and private sector entities have teamed up for the Million Hearts® initiative. The goal is to prevent one million heart attacks by 2017. The initiative puts a spotlight on high blood pressure as a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

Do you or someone you know need to take control of monitoring your blood pressure to gain the unique gifts of better cardiovascular health? We have some ideas to make checking your numbers easy, right in the comfort of your own home.

75439_300x300The Best Cuff Blood Pressure Monitor earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it was the most accurate and had the most comfortable cuff. Each monitor’s measurements were compared to readings taken by a registered nurse. The Best model performed nearly 2-1/2 times more accurately than lesser models. Panelists preferred The Best model’s cuff because it did not over tighten like other monitors and was smooth against the skin.

86268_300x300If accurately reading small numbers is difficult for you, this cuff-style blood pressure monitor displays clinically accurate readings on an oversized LCD display that’s easier to see than other monitors. The monitor uses the oscillometric method, a technique recommended by the American Heart Association for its accuracy and clinically proven to provide accurate readings for hypertension.

81575_300x300This wrist blood pressure monitor earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it displayed a 94% accuracy rate when readings were compared to those taken by a cardiology nurse. Panelists lauded The Best model’s automatic inflating cuff because it “felt nice around the wrist and was easy to put on.”

American Heart Month is an ideal time to takes steps to keep your heart healthy. Self-monitoring is a unique gift to yourself and a great way to get started!

Presidents Day Shopping for the Chief of Stuff

On Monday, we will honor the men who have led our country with giant sales on mattresses, marathons on our favorite cable TV channels and, for many folks, a three-day weekend.

Presidents Day is perhaps the quirkiest of all federal holidays because we can’t all agree on who it honors or even on how to spell it. The U.S. government officially lists the day as honoring George Washington’s birthday. Many states include Abraham Lincoln in the celebration, some include Thomas Jefferson, and several states list it as a day to honor all presidents.

Nor is there agreement on where to place the apostrophe. Sometimes it isn’t used at all (Presidents Day), sometimes in the singular (President’s Day) and often in the plural (Presidents’ Day).

Hammacher Schlemmer has a presidential history of its own. Numerous Chief Executives and their families have been known to shop with us for unique gifts.

12191_300x300Herbert Hoover favored our bar supplies. Likewise, we suspect any president or CEO or even a retired person with oenophilia would appreciate this unique gift: a dual-temperature wine credenza that stores both reds and whites at their proper temperatures.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt liked to shop our kitchen supplies during his time in office. Today, he might appreciate all we have to offer in a selection that’s bigger than ever.

John F. Kennedy purchased an electric bed from us, a unique gift for the White House. Happy birthday, Mr. President, indeed.

83455_300x300And Lady Bird Johnson consulted with us while renovating the White House closets. Should another First Lady (or First Gentleman) undertake a similar project, she/he will find that we have several options for closet organization that would address the LOTFW’s* sartorial needs.

* Acronym for Leader of the Free World

Between a Rook and a Hard Place

Garry Kasparov was a world chess champion with a unique gift for the game that became evident even as a child. He reigned as the world champion from 1985 until 2000.

Deep Blue was a chess playing supercomputer developed by IBM and backed by a human team of programmers and a chess expert.

On this day in 1996, a six-game match of man vs. machine began. By the end of game one, a computer claimed victory for the first time. Ultimately, man would prevail with Kasparov taking the match 4-2 over the eight days of play.

A year later, a six-game rematch resulted with the computer prevailing. Some chess experts say Kasparov came into the match overconfident. Others say the computer’s capabilities had advanced over the year, and still others say the humans from IBM manipulated the computer to assure a win. Either way, IBM’s stock price surged 15% after the contest.

Nearly 20 years later, we can play chess games against our smartphones and tablets, but the game retains a stature of nobility and civility when played by two human opponents, face to face.12025_300x300

To that effect, we recommend The Barrister’s Chess Set. This set reassigns courtroom adversaries to the jurisprudence of the chessboard. The prosecution and the defense are represented by characters of law such as a bewigged judge, blind Lady Justice, attorneys, bailiffs and a partial jury. The board mimics the raised bench and jury box of a courtroom. It’s the perfect unique gift for the legal eagle in your life.

11951_300x300The games of Kasparov vs. IBM were played with standard time limits. You may prefer games of indefinite length. This is the chess set that mounts vertically to a wall, allowing for weeks-long play without interruption. An included “last move” marker signals to an opponent when it’s time for an equally crafty counter. This magnetic chess set is another option for deft vertical play and moves easily to a tabletop, while the magnetic pieces ensure the evening’s last move is preserved.

73077_300x300You may find yourself ready for tournament play. No doubt, at the tournament, you will be doing a lot of sitting, so we recommend bringing along The Portable Gel Seat. Unlike bulky seat cushions, this compact gel-filled cushion weighs only 2.5 lbs, folds in half, and is easily portable due to its integrated handle. Your level of concentration is sure to be improved!

Unique Gifts of Sweetness for Your Valentine Sweetie

According to a major U.S. polling firm, the week of Valentine’s Day is # 1 for sales of chocolate. Consider these statistics:

  • Americans spend about $350 million on chocolate during the second week of February.
  • Nearly 60 million pounds of chocolate will be purchased. Almost twice as much chocolate candy tonnage is sold during the week of Halloween, so evidently we’re buying higher-quality treats for our sweeties this month.
  • The top day for chocolate sales is expected to be Feb. 13 – if you haven’t bought anything for your valentine yet, you have plenty of company.

And if you’re still in need of completing your shopping duties, we have several suggestions for unique gifts of sweetness that will make your Valentine’s Day a piece of cake:84577_300x300

Speaking of chocolate, this Fondue Fountain sends melted chocolate cascading down its two tiers, turning dessert into entertainment. A crowd-pleaser seen at banquets and buffets, this home version animates traditional chocolate fondue by inviting guests to dip fruit, cheese, pretzels, and other snacks into the rippling streams.

84596_300x300Some would say it’s not all about the chocolate, although we may beg to differ. But here’s a nifty device that will let your sweetheart make authentic homemade Twinkies in minutes. The electric griddle cooks six cakes at a time in molds made to resemble the classic oblong Twinkie shape. The included recipe book also has instructions for chocolate and red velvet Twinkies, which themselves could make for unique gifts for Valentine’s Day.

84781_300x300February’s cold weather is no deterrent to true ice cream fans. This unique volley-ball-sized ice cream maker shakes, rattles, or rolls to churn a delicious frozen confection. Simply place ingredients into the ball’s sealed compartment and ice and rock salt into a second compartment. The ball can be shaken, tossed in place, or rolled back and forth to churn the mixture. Only 20 minutes of play yields up to one pint of rich, creamy ice cream.

More ideas for unique gifts for Valentine’s Day are available on our online gift guide. Narrow down your choices by the recipient’s gender, interests or your desired price range.

Unique Gifts for Her Ensure a Happy Valentine’s Day

Don’t be that guy…you know the one. It’s the morning of February 14 and he still hasn’t found a Valentine’s Day present for the special woman in his life.

We have several suggestions for unique gifts for her that will wrap up your shopping as quickly as you can say, “Hello, Hammacher Schlemmer”.77833_300x300

This wall-mounted, illuminated cabinet keeps up to 104 pieces of jewelry organized and easily accessible. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, the armoire has six LEDs that cast bright light inside the cabinet, and the exterior of the door has a mirror so she can admire her look while wearing the unique gifts of jewelry you’ve given her in the past.

86074_300x300Tap into her artistic side with The iPad Pen. It’s a stylus that makes drawing and taking notes on an iPad seem as natural as writing freehand with pen and paper. The pen works with a free app and an included wireless infrared receiver, transforming an iPad into a blank sheet of writing paper. Her work is saved as editable jpg images on the tablet.

79218_300x300If your lady likes a touch of luxury, this beautiful, soft robe is made from 100% washable cashmere, offering the warmth of wool without roughness or scratching for the softest hand available. The patented knitted technique and proprietary treatment used ensure the fibers will withstand machine washing. Exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer, it’s a unique gift that will be appreciated every morning.

Need more ideas? Our online Gift Guide will give you suggestions sure to please that special woman.

Find Unique Gifts for Him this Valentine’s Day

The year’s most romantic holiday is in the offing. For Valentine’s Day, we have a few suggestions for unique gifts for him that will be sure to please and will ensure you’re thought of fondly each time they are put to use.79622_300x300

This Pajamas Warming Pouch warms PJs—or towels, gloves and hats—for cozy comfort. The pouch has integrated heating elements that reach 118 F degrees and a thermal satin interior that retains heat, resulting in toasty warm pajamas in just 10 minutes.
And to put in that pajama warmer, we recommend The Gentleman’s Genuine Irish Flannel Lounge Pants, perhaps paired with The Genuine Irish Flannel Robe. These are the men’s lounge wear made in County Donegal, 86543_300x300Ireland, from the world’s softest flannel. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, these cozy garments are made from flannel that is napped on both sides, resulting in unparalleled warmth and softness.

With all this pajama-clad comfort, your Valentine may need a really great alarm clock to entice him out of bed in the morning. The Best Projection Clock earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute 86241_300x300because it provided the most accurate display of time and temperature. The Best model’s accuracy is provided via a radio signal from the Atomic Clock in Boulder, Colorado. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the clock projects time, alarm, temperature at the two sensors’ locations, along with weather forecast icons.

Our customizable Gift Guide can help you find and select even more unique gifts to please a husband, son, brother, or friend this Valentine’s Day.