I have a weakness for gadgets. It’s a common condition among geeks, which I most certainly am. I’m able to resist most of the time, but every now and then something comes along that simply bypasses my firewall and goes directly into my “must have” file.

This week it was a hand warmer.

I’m a native Texan. Dallas, specifically. And most of my family is from Louisiana. We’ll get sleet on occasion, but we don’t do winters. Not like Iowa does. We don’t do subfreezing all that often, let alone subzero.

Anything that can make winter a little less miserable will get my attention. Last week, my wife suggested I ask our daughter if I could have a look at the rechargeable hand warmer she bought a while back.

I wasn’t sure. How much heat could something a bit smaller than the original iPod really put out? Especially one that was also designed to be a backup charger for other electronic devices.

I was surprised. Five minutes after I tried it, my wife was ordering us each one. It’s too big to just slip into my glove the way I could with the packets that start heating up when they’re exposed to air. But the thing works. I was stunned.

The real challenge will come next week, I suppose, when daytime highs could stay below zero. I’m not looking forward to that at all. In fact, the only things I’m really looking forward to before spring are my wife’s birthday and the day pitchers and catchers report to Florida.

I suspect the real reason my wife (a native Midwesterner) ordered the hand warmer was to give the Southerner one less thing to gripe about. It’s not like she can do anything about winter, but she can distract me. The combination of gadget and warming me up works well. And she snuck the channel off of Star Wars while I was distracted to boot.

It’s not really that people in any region are any more or less sensible as a group. There are differences, sure. What y’all call spicy and what I do are two completely different things. How anyone can consider shrimp properly boiled without knowing what Zatarain’s is remains beyond me.

But earlier this week I read about a guy who has a pet alligator. That happens occasionally. He goes further than most, though, calling the gator an emotional support alligator. He says it likes to give hugs and is so calm it won’t eat the goldfish in its pond.

Everything my family has ever learned about gators says that’s not a good move. We suspect the guy’s “friend” really views him merely as a snack it’s saving for later. The alternative suggestion is that, since it’s in Pennsylvania, it’s simply too cold to work up enough energy to remember that it’s a gator.

I’m not sending it my hand warmer, though. It’s on duty until this weather warms up.

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.