One of the things I love about going to the zoo, especially a zoo I’ve never been to before, is that sometimes there are animals there that I literally had no idea existed.

For instance, what the heck is this?:

I’ll tell you what: it’s an elephant shrew! Even Wikipedia was like, whaaa? although truthfully that’s because first I typed in “elephant-headed shrew,” and apparently there’s no such thing. But wouldn’t it be much funnier if there was? And actually, that is kinda what it looks like.

According to Wikipedia’s entry on elephant shrews, they’re not technically related to shrews, so some people call them “sengis” instead. They looked about the size of a guinea pig, I’d guess, but hilariously, according to the DC zoo”s online blurb about them, they might actually be more related to elephants than shrews. Check out that link for pictures of BABY elephant-shrews. TOO cute!

The Wikipedia entry also says: “Rhynchocyon species also dig small conical holes in the soil, bandicoot style.” I think we should try to introduce “bandicoot style” as a more commonly used phrase, i.e., “Sunshine is burying her treat instead of eating it — bandicoot style!” Or “I am totally going to the mailbox in my pyjamas — bandicoot style!” Bandicoots are not as cute as elephant shrews, but they have an indisputably funnier name.

Anyway, I promised holiday shopping tips, but what I didn’t tell you is that I’m a terrible shopper. Wait! Don’t storm off yet! It’s true, I’m bad at shopping, and I try to avoid it at all costs. If you ask me, the best part of being a writer is not having to worry that your officemates might notice you only own one pair of shoes, namely a pair of seven-year-old black sneakers. Because you haaaaaaate shoe shopping.

But if you’re anything like me, and you dread the thought of braving the holiday crowds, and you know you”ll just get talked into buying something you don’t really want because you think the salesperson is having a bad day and needs cheering up…then you’ve probably already discovered the wonderfulness of online shopping.

So instead of actual “shopping tips,” what I have to offer is two lesser-known online shopping sites that I totally love.

The first is The Rainforest Site, where everything you buy also means saving acres of rainforest. I saved like 17,000 square feet of rainforest the other day! (whee!) Just by buying Christmas presents! Rock on! And sometimes you’re also helping the economies of, like, Peru or Indonesia or wherever the pretty exotic thing is coming from. I’ve been super-happy with all the jewelry I’ve gotten from there, and in general I think they’re a good idea, because you’re saving the world at the same time. Yay!

You can also buy all the same things at their companion sites if you’d rather your money went towards ending hunger, or saving pets, or supporting literacy. And even if you don’t buy anything, just clicking on each site once a day is a way to help the world (for free!) (in your pyjamas!).

The other site is CafePress, because it turns out the world is full of artistic geniuses who love TV as much as I do. Just try going there and typing your favorite TV show into the search engine. “Veronica Mars” gets you 402 designs on 5,880 products, all made up by people like you and me, only much more artistic (than me, anyhow). You can get T-shirts that say “I [heart] Logan” or “Ask me about my STD” or “It’s all fun and games until one of you gets my foot up your ass.” Also on mugs, tote bags, tank tops, mousepads, throw pillows, coasters, and thongs! Dude! And you should see the crazy Lost stuff. (Sadly, nothing with elephant shrews, though…yet!) It’s a perfect shopping center for your TV-obsessed friend…er, not that I know anyone like that. (Note: The not-wearable things seem to be more popular than the clothes, in my limited experience so far.)

So those are my brilllllllllliant holiday shopping ideas. Essentially what I”m saying is that I advocate staying indoors and doing it all in your pyjamas. Bandicoot style!

Good luck!

Quote of the Day: "No, I don”t have a gambling problem. I”m winning, and winning is not a problem. That”s like saying Michael Jordan has a basketball problem, or Def Leppard has an awesomeness problem." Earl on My Name is Earl