Edited Version December 16, 1998 Transcript
EIIP Tech Arena Online Presentation

"EIIP Virtual Holiday Gift Catalog"

Amy Sebring
EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

Special Guest

The original transcript of December 16, 1998 online Tech Arena discussion is available in EIIP Virtual Forum Archives (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the participants to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Tech Arena for a special holiday event! Today we are going to look at a Virtual Christmas catalog, put together from suggestions from our EIIP participants.

We will be putting up several links: if you click on them, they will display the page in a browser window. After the first one, the browser window may be hidden by the chat window, so you may need to bring it forward. We will also have a transcript of today's session with the links embedded, so you do not need to write them all down!

We are expecting a special guest to join us a little later, then we will open up the session for your holiday wishes and any other gift ideas.

First, let me start off by asking, how many here today have purchased something for the holidays via the Internet, and if you care to share with us what it was, please do. I purchased my plane ticket to NY to see my family online. Anybody else buy something? No?

Dennis Hickethier: I purchased a genealogy database program.

Gil Gibbs: I got almost everything, but some 800-number items, also - AE, of course!

Amy Sebring: Neat Dennis.

Ann Willis: I bought some astronomy books from Amazon.com and some Dilbert stuff from their website.

Amy Sebring: Cool Ann. Let me first share some info about the impact of online purchasing this year, and I am convinced that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that next year, Internet shopping will be in full swing.

The subtitle on an article from the New York Times News Service states that "Economic impact of online shopping hasn't really been felt yet." From the article ... Analysts say that as many as 20 million people have made at least one purchase online.

One consulting firm estimates that Americans will buy almost $8 billion worth of merchandise on the Internet this year, up from $3 billion last year, and holiday sales will account for $3.5 billion of the total.

One analyst expects Internet sales to reach $108 billion by 2003. "This is going mainstream. We are in a momentum-building stage right now." So far, online shopping has not made a significant impact on traditional retailers yet, but analysts say it eventually will.

Here are a few sites that are mentioned as shopping guides. These are like Yahoo for shopping sites, with categories and search engines.



A site called mySimon has an attractive Holiday Shopping Guide at


There is a feature there called Wish List, which is a way to send your hints about what YOU want this year to a friend by email. Interesting idea!

Let's go now to our own EIIP shopping guide. We asked our friends to send us an idea or two. We are not selling anything here today. If you should happen to be seriously interested in any of these products, then follow up with the retailer. We are not handling orders!

The suggestions we received breaks down into about 3 basic categories: Computer-related, Home Safety, and Misc.

EIIP Shopping Guide

Computer-Related Category:

This attractive mouse pad, or more accurately, mouse rug, suggested by Avagene Moore. When she sent it to me, I thought it was going to be a toupee!


We had a few map/GIS products suggested including the Garmin GPS II or III Plus, sent in by Eric Neitzel. There are a number of interesting products offered on the FireGround website. It does take awhile to load however.


Terry Storer suggested turning a friend on to Microsoft's Terraserver for all manner of high resolution satellite photos.


And National Geographic, a terrific Christmas gift and map source for many, many years was suggested by Jan Kimmell in Arizona.


This offer includes every map that National Geographic has ever published!

Home Safety Category:

Another map idea. A suggestion from TRAC in Louisiana, this is a laminated hurricane tracking map, now for only $7.50 plus shipping


John Laye suggests a gift idea, which IS an idea. "Many of us tie our battery changes in smoke detectors to the change to/from daylight savings time, so why not use the same reminder to change the batteries and water, and to check the food dates in our disaster packs? Won't work in AZ, sooo... for our AZ colleagues -- tie it to the Christmas / Chanukah and Independence Day holidays?"

Kevin Farrell also passes on some information regarding residential sprinkler systems. "Most fire deaths occur in the home, so the inclusion of residential sprinklers in new construction would both save lives and reduce insurance costs associated with residential fires. Sprinklers save lives!"


Both David Crews and I are NOAA radio fans. David suggests Radio Shack models who also has a holiday gift guide at


For that family member who enjoys the outdoors, either camping, hiking, fishing, mountain climbing, or whatever. See Oregon Scientific's portable NOAA radio.


Pat Moore of Strohl systems suggests "One of the emergency preparedness or survival kits provided by companies such as Disaster Resources Guide - Kathy Rainey at 800-826-2201 or Bob Snedaker of Simpler Life Emergency Provisions at 9090-798-8108 ... or Strohl Systems Business / Service Continuity Planning Guide contact Pat Moore (800) 634-2016 x 145. Info about the Planning Guide is found at


Finally in this category, a suggestion for a personal water purifier, called Pure Sip. The only info sent in was the manufacturer, Water One, Inc., Hanover Park, IL 60103.

Miscellaneous Category:

We have all kinds in the disaster business, and they have a wide variety of interests.

Isabel sent us some music sites including:

http://www.vanessamae.com/midi.html to download some violin music

http://northpole4kids.direct.ca/1998/music.htm for Christmas music

http://www.usacitylink.com/xmas/carols.html for carols

We also have some art suggestions from Rick Tobin, including prints of computer art representing some disaster-related themes: firestorm, tsunami, El Nino, volcano, hurricane and crater fall. Contact Rick at [email protected]

Partner, Dee Beaugez also has some art and gifts, especially for horse lovers. There is also a promotion on her site to "Send your loved one into the Wilderness" that could be interesting! See


For the fireman on your list, here are some handmade ceramics by Mrs. Aaron Feldman: these are really lovely. It is too late for this year, but contact [email protected] to ask about next year.




And finally, in the toy department, the perennial Christmas gift for the little(?) girl, Barbie. Now you can order a Barbie look-alike!


That concludes our first annual(?) virtual catalog and if you haven't already seen it, FEMA also has an article, "The Right Gift Can Make the Holidays and the Coming New Year More Disaster-Resistant," with some additional ideas.


Also, this is a very good time of year to make a gift to your favorite disaster relief organization.

Amy Sebring: Now I think I hear something on the roof: Welcome Santa!

Santa Claus: Hello, Amy and everyone. This is my first time to chat. My fingers are cold, it makes it hard to type. Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!


Amy Sebring: Glad to see you online! Who is your ISP?

Santa Claus: Well, Amy, we have our own ISP here at the North Pole. We call it the Internet Santa Provider. Ho! Ho! Ho!


Amy Sebring: I wonder if you can share a secret with us ... when Bill Gates was a little boy, was he naughty or nice? And what did he ask you to bring him?

Santa Claus: Amy, best I remember Bill was a nice little boy. But I do remember his letter to me when he asked for ALL The toys. Ho! Ho! Ho!


Amy Sebring: Do you have an Emergency Manager at the North Pole?

Santa Claus: Oh, yes, one of the elves is our emergency manager. His name is Skippy.


Amy Sebring: What kind of hazards analysis do you have up there?

Santa Claus: I let Skippy handle that, Amy. Our worst hazard is weather-related, you know, blizzards and ice storms. Ho! Ho! Ho!


Amy Sebring: Have you ever had a disaster?

Santa Claus: Oh, my indeed, yes, Amy. You remember, I am sure, the worst disaster we had was a terrible blizzard on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Claus and I thought we wouldn't be able to make our Christmas Eve deliveries but we had a contingency plan. Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer! Saved Christmas for us that year! HO! HO! HO!


Amy Sebring: What about Global Warming? Do you think that is going to be a problem for you?

Santa Claus: Well, Amy, I have been here for a long, long time and don't see any signs of any warming at this point! Ho! Ho! Ho!


Amy Sebring: How about terrorists? Any problem with that?

Santa Claus: Well, let me see. Hmmmm. I guess the closest thing we had was when the Grinch tried to steal Christmas. Not many terrorists want to face all that snow, ice, and sub-zero weather. Kinda turns people off if they are not used to it like me and the elves. Anyway, everybody loves me and my workshop! Ho! Ho! Ho!


Amy Sebring: And what about next year? Is your workshop going to be Y2K compliant?

Santa Claus: We haven't computerized yet, Amy. The elves still do everything in the workshop the old-fashioned way so the Y2K is a non-issue to me and my work. We like the old-style toys; don't care much for the newfangled ones. We have the new ones shipped in and we don't worry about computers. Ho! Ho! Ho!


Amy Sebring: We have some very good boys and girls here with us today. What are you going to bring Isabel?

Santa Claus: I know Isabel has been a good girl. I have been keeping an eye on her and everyone that is working in the EIIP. I will have a surprise for Isabel. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Isabel McCurdy: Saaaaaaaaaaaaaannnta!


Amy Sebring: What are you going to bring Kevin?

The Grinch: Hey Santa.... is that your bag?

Santa Claus: Oh, my, Kevin. I know he has worked so hard this year on his 911 Center. Would like to make all his wishes come true about that place. Looks like it is shaping up so nicely. Kevin, you look for something under the tree from old Santa. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Kevin Farrell: Cookies!


Amy Sebring: How about David Crews?

Santa Claus: Well, I was going to bring David a super-duper computer but he was a little impatient and bought his own. Guess I will find some new electronic toy for David. Maybe something to start a new hobby for David.


Amy Sebring: Any last words for us, Santa?

Santa Claus: Is Rick Tobin here today? I am planning on visiting Rick, too. How's the new work going, Rick?

Santa Claus: I have to get back to the workshop. Those elves and reindeer have to be watched. They play while Santa is away. Got to get ready for Christmas. HO! HO! HO!

The Grinch: Hey fat boy..... can I carry that bag of toys?

Amy Sebring: Oh no! the Grinch!

Santa Claus: Have a cyber Christmas! Merry Christmas to everyone!


The Grinch: Ho Ho yourself, fat boy.

Amy Sebring: Thank you Santa. Merry Christmas! Finally, one last page before we open it up. Here are some tips from the American Psychological Association for coping with holiday stress!


We have time for a few more gift ideas if we have left out your favorite. Please enter the question mark (?) then wait to be recognized.


David Crews: Is there one from the US. Mint (especially for free samples!) HO! HO! HO!

Amy Sebring: Any more suggestions? Well I can figure out who is NOT the Grinch but I have no clue who IS?

Gil Gibbs: A no-fail telephone system?

Final Question:

Amy Sebring: What are you up to Grinch?

The Grinch: bout 4' 1"

Amy Sebring: Well, if we are burned out on holiday shopping, let's just open it up for holiday greetings since we will not be seeing you again until the New Year.

Kevin Farrell: Merry Christmas everyone! Even that scallywag, the Grinch.

Amy Sebring: Thank you for joining us today, and throughout 1998. We are looking forward to a very good year during 1999, and hope you will join us then and help to make it even better by contributing your ideas and suggestions. Thank you all.

Gil Gibbs: Happy Holidays from the Texas Coastal Bend!!!

Amy Sebring: It has been great for me to make a number of new cyberfriends!

Isabel McCurdy: AHHHHHHHHHH ......something for EIIP withdrawal!!!!!

David Crews: Pass the eggnog! Kudos to Santa and the elves! Bah humbug Grinch!

The Grinch: You'll be getting coal, Crews.

Amy Sebring: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody. God bless us every one!

Gil Gibbs: A bigger hard drive, I'm running out of space - and the Grinch isn't helping much!

Amy Sebring: Ok, now all together, we can sing at least one Christmas Carol. How about "We wish you a Merry Christmas"!

Terry Storer: Best wishes for the Holidays !!!! PARTY HARTY!!!! STAY SAFE!!!!

Ann Willis: Everyone, it has been a great year. I have learned a great deal and enjoyed interacting with everyone, virtually.

Dolores Beaugez: Everyone at The Horse Review sends a Holiday blessing. May your guardian angel watch over you and guide you home safely and keep you from harm's way. Also a special Merry Christmas and Thank you to Amy and Avagene!

Amy Sebring: Avagene is on the phone from the airport and says Merry Christmas to all!!!

Isabel McCurdy: Merry Christmas, Avagene.

The Grinch: Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg....Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.

Kevin Farrell: Take a hike, Grinch.

Gil Gibbs: I hope I find as many friends on ham radio as on this Forum... and e-mail... great group!!

Chip Hines: A very Merry Christmas to all, and a special thanks to Amy and Avagene who work EIIP miracles each and every week.