On Sept. 2, four correction officers pulled Jose Guadalupe, an inmate classified in medical records as seriously mentally ill, into his solitary-confinement cell at Rikers Island and beat him unconscious.
A little over two months later, three guards wrestled another inmate, Tracy Johnson, to the floor, pepper-sprayed him in the face and broke a bone in his eye socket. Then, on Dec. 9, yet another group of officers beat Ambiorix Celedonio, an inmate with an I.Q. of 65, so badly that, as surveillance footage later showed, he had bruises and scratches on his face and blood coming from his mouth.
The brutal confrontations were among 62 cases identified by The New York Times in which inmates were seriously injured by correction officers between last August and January, a period when city and federal officials had become increasingly focused on reining in violence at Rikers.
It was in August that the United States attorneyâ€™s office in Manhattan issued a damning report about brutality at the jail complex and threatened to sue the city unless conditions there improved. And in November, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that ending pervasive violence at Rikers had become a top priority for his administration.
But The Timesâ€™s examination makes clear that the violence has continued largely unabated, despite extraordinary levels of outside scrutiny, a substantial commitment of resources by Mr. de Blasio and a new team of high-ranking managers installed by the correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, who took over the job in April.
This reminds me of the many conversations I had about jail with former inmates. Â The stories are not all that dissimilar. Â
Today, prison design is a civic cause for some architects who specialize in criminal justice and care about humane design. There is a lot of research documenting how the right kinds of design reduce violence inside prisons and even recidivism. Architects can help ensure that prisons donâ€™t succumb to our worst instincts â€” that they are not about spending the least amount of money to create the most horrendous places possible, in the name of vengeance â€” but promote rehabilitation and peace.
There has been less longing, in recent years, to be part of our own countryâ€™s version of a rust belt â€“ the one that comprises such Southwestern Ontario cities as Windsor, London and St. Catharines, and patches of Eastern Ontario. Young people have fled in droves as the regionâ€™s employment numbers have tanked, seeing the loss of more than a quarter of manufacturing jobs in the last decade.
The plight of the region has been a driving force behind a provincial deficit that remains at over $10-billion, as well as a net loss for Ontario in the migration of people within Canada, and an alarmingly aging population.
Even with Alberta driving the national economy, the country could ill afford Ontarioâ€™s struggles; itâ€™s hardly healthy for the largest provinceâ€™s per-capita GDP to be lower than the rest of Canadaâ€™s, and it helps explain why the federal government has remained in the red.
With oilâ€™s current slide, Canada really canâ€™t afford for it to remain a drag â€“ and in fact there is some expectation that Ontario will instead reclaim its old role as the leader of Canadaâ€™s economic growth. Its premier, Kathleen Wynne, recently expressed optimism that plummeting oil prices and a sinking dollar will prove a boon to manufacturing. â€œI donâ€™t wish for low oil prices and a low dollar for Alberta,â€ she said earlier this month. â€œBut at the same time, we want our manufacturing sector to rebound. So if that [low oil price] helps, then thatâ€™s a good thing.â€
While they could indeed help in the short term, itâ€™s difficult to imagine those volatile factors leading to the lasting revival of traditional sectors competing with consistently low-cost jurisdictions such as Mexico, China and even the American South.
For sustainable renewal, Ontarioâ€™s old industrial towns will have to work harder at reinvention â€“ and they should be looking to some of their counterparts in the U.S. A two-week road trip through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan revealed in often surprising ways how our neighbours are much further along in reinventing their most hard-hit cities, and how much we have to learn.
â€œThe wind is at the back of these cities in a way that it wasnâ€™t before,â€ says Jennifer Vey, a fellow at the Brookings Institute who studies the revitalization of old industrial centres. And although many of them will remain smaller than in their industrial heyday, the numbers bear that sentiment out. When the Manhattan Institute ranked Americaâ€™s 100 biggest U.S. metropolitan areas for their economic performance in the wake of the Great Recession, mid-size Northeastern and Midwestern cities accounted for nine of the top 20.
As Mr. Piiparinen and others are quick to stress, jobs will always be the cornerstone of any regeneration. But employers themselves can be drawn to a city by affordability and infrastructure, and like to set up shop where highly skilled people want to put down roots. The renaissance of former industrial powerhouses is fuelled by attracting and keeping well-educated, entrepreneurial citizens committed to community-building and capable of creating wealth and quality of life around them.
Of course, direct comparisons between the U.S. and Canadian experience is never exact: The places I visited tended to be larger than their Canadian counterparts; and although they may have such superior amenities as major-league sports teams and world-class museums, they also suffer from some entrenched disadvantages â€“ notably an appalling history of race relations that has left a legacy of poverty, crime and troubled public schools.
So why is it that a younger generation is finding opportunity in these Rust Belt cities (or some of them, at least; nobody sees Flint, Mich., or Gary, Ind., as models) more than in places like London or Windsor, which have some decent bones themselves? As Ontario attempts to take back Canadaâ€™s economic reins, it would do well to learn from whatâ€™s worked, and know what itâ€™s up against.
Almost every respondent wrote that the fact of his being the first black president will loom large in the historical narrative â€” though they disagreed in interesting ways. Many predict that what will last is the symbolism of a nonwhite First Family; others, the antagonism Obamaâ€™s blackness provoked; still others, the way his racial self-consciousness constrained him. A few suggested that we will care a great deal less about his race generations from now â€” just as John F. Kennedyâ€™s Catholicism hardly matters to current students of history. Across the board, Obamacare was recognized as a historic triumph (though one historian predicted that, with its market exchanges, it may in retrospect be seen as illiberal and mark the beginning of the privatization of public health care). A surprising number of respondents argued that his rescue of the economy will be judged more significant than is presently acknowledged, however lackluster the recovery has felt. There was more attention paid to China than isis (Obamaâ€™s foreign policy received the most divergent assessments), and considerable credit was given to the absence of a major war or terrorist attack, along with a more negative assessment of its price â€” the expansion of the security state, drones and all.Â
Since we are still planning to do a hike to Grey Owlâ€™s Cabin in June, we have been picking up some gear for the trip.Â A lot of people have been asking us what we are taking so here is the quick list of gear that is going.
Backpacks: To carry the gear, we have some frameless backpacks with hip straps.Â You can spend a lot of money on these and after reading around, we think we found the right balance between comfort, durability, and price.
I am carrying a 65 litre pack.Â It is lots big enough for an overnight trip and this way Mark and Wendy donâ€™t have to carry as much stuff.Â It will hold Wendyâ€™s and my tent, the cook set, and sleeping back with a lot of space left over.Â I wonâ€™t use all of that space but it is there.
If I was walking the Appalachian Trail, I would definitely have purchased a more expensive backpack but it’s only a day and we are only taking so much stuff.Â Mark and Wendy have some smaller bags that I bought there bags on clearance for a combined $30.Â They are 40 litres and have the external straps they need.Â They should do the job.
Tents: Wendy and I are staying in a three man tent we bought for $16 from Wal-mart.Â They had a loss leader going last winter and we got it then.Â It’s light and just big enough for the two of us.Â Â The tent opens up and hopefully we will be able to sleep under the skies rather than under the fly.Â If it does look like it could rain, we’ll be fine underneath it.
If I was going camping rather than backcountry hiking, we would have gotten something larger and higher quality.Â Â Weight and size are a factor.Â Also the price was insanely cheap ($16 on sale).Â If it doesn’t last, no harm done but the reviews online were pretty solid.Â It’s no where near as durable as a tent from the North Face but then again, it won’t be asked to do much more than keep the mosquitoes or drizzle off of us.Â If it was just me, I would got with a two person tent but this way there is just enough room for us and some of our gear.
Mark is staying in a one person tent from Eagle’s Camp.Â It is small but it will be only him and his bag. Either way it is really light and since Mark will be carrying it in and out, he will appreciate the weight.Â We bought some ropes to add as guy wires which opens it up a bit.Â It’s small but it is light.
We did waterproof and seal the seams and upgraded the tent pegs to something lighter and more likely to stay in the ground.Â If the weather is miserable, we should be okay.
Sleeping bags: Mark had a sleeping bag but Wendy and I wanted new 1.5 pound sleeping bags.Â We will have foil covered sleeping foams as well and inflatable camping pillows at well which are small, light, and are more comfortable than our bags.Â Â We also bought some compression straps so the sleeping bags take up as little as room as possible.
For the kitchen, we have a Primus Classic Trail Stove and Primus fuel canisters.Â Stoves have their own fanboy culture which I understand but for the price, it can’t be beaten.Â I know this isn’t the stove to use when it’s winter but since we are doing the hike in June, we should be okay.Â Â It also has a five star review on Amazon.com so it seems to be doing the job.
As for the camp kit, years ago Lee gave Wendy a great camp set.Â We picked up three sporks and we are set to go.
As for water, I have talked to a lot of people who had drank right out of Kingsmere Lake with no side affects.Â There are giardia warnings about the water so we will have some water filters.Â It’s way cheaper using purification tablets but I am told they are disgusting.Â Since we are walking along side the lake, we will be using collapsible water bottles to keep weight and volume down.
Food: Basically MRE’s.Â We have been to Cabela’s weekly testing out one or two of them each time.Â We will eat some snacks on the way in, have a nice dinner (well away from the campground to keep the bears away) and then a big breakfast in the morning on our way out.Â Hopefully we get going in time to be back in Waskesiu for a late lunch before heading back to Saskatoon.
Clothes: I went out and invested in some decent hiking shorts and shirts this summer.Â As a friend of mine told me that chafing is not something that you will want to do while on the trail.Â We also went to Cabela’s and got tested by the Dr. Shoal’s machine for the kind of insoles we all need.Â While the custom Dr. Shoals insoles are right there, a row over are competitor insoles designed the same way for a fraction of the cost.Â They make hiking boots feel a lot more comfortable and will hopefully make the trip more pleasant.
Technology: We wonâ€™t be taking much technology along although we will have a GPS, compact binoculars, and some rugged cameras.Â We will have our multi-tools and a hatchet with us but I don’t know if that is considered technology or not.Â In case we do get some rain, we have some gadget bags which are essentially waterproof zip lock bags for gear.Â It says that you can submerse them but I’d rather not.Â What they do a good job of doing is if a tent or bag does leak, your stuff will still be safe.
Let me know if you have some suggestions in the comments below.
Hey, itâ€™s Christmas Day this morning.
Like we normally do, we spent Christmas Eve with Lee, Brittany, and Camdyn. Â We often spend Christmas Day with the Reimers but with them in Hawaii and having celebrated with them already, we woke up and opened gifts today at home.Â
Here is what everyone got.
He wasnâ€™t really expecting anything like that so he was pretty blown away. Â Mark had amazing parent teacher interviews and then stopped working so his first report card was brutal. Â He then has worked really hard since then but deep down I think he was expecting a lump of coal. Â Since he is grounded from all television and media until his marks improve, he will appreciate this reprieve. Â I am hoping this helps him the new year. Â If not, at least he can use it to play Angry Birds Transformers. Â
Wendy gave him aÂ VIA RailÂ shoulder bag with a drafting book inside. Â Itâ€™s a murse!
TheÂ dogs got him the same kind ofÂ photography glovesÂ that Wendy also got.
Maggi and Hutch gave him and OliverÂ PlayStation All-Stars Battle RoyaleÂ so you can imagine them beating each other up playing that. Â
I also gave him aÂ andÂ a brand newÂ Pentax 35mm f2.4 lensÂ which shocked him all over again because that is how I roll. Â He had been saving up for the lens for a bit and was pretty shocked that we got it for him.
As for Oliver, Wendy gave himÂ a giant X-Wing fighter. Â It is huge and he was thrilled. Â Attack runs on the Death Star have already commenced.Â
I gave him a toyÂ AH-64 Apache attack helicopterÂ Â
Mark got him aÂ Lego Star Wars Snow Speeder. Â I just realized I now how to help him assemble this thing. Â It comes with two lego characters. Â Luke Skywalker and that guy that was crushed by the AT-AT. Â So yeah, thatâ€™s great. Â
Wendy and I also gave him a Nikon S31 waterproof digital camera. Â It was an old one of mine that I didnâ€™t use once in 2014. Â Maggi and Hutch got him a Calgary Flames camera case that is styled like a mini backpack to carry his camera in.
Wendy also gave him a giant 200 piece art set. Â Heâ€™ll love it.
He asked Santa Claus for some grown up binoculars and old St. Nick came through for him and got him a pairÂ and a tactical flashlight. Santa also surprised him with a remote controlled Ford F-250 truck.
You can imagine how excited he is about all of that. Â You can also imagine how many times all of us have been blinded by his flashlight this morning.
It is her first real prime lens (her other ones are toy lenses) and she is pretty excited about it.
Oliver gave herÂ a new knife setÂ which she has wanted for a while. Â He also gave her a J.A. Henckelsâ€™ Chef Knife that she has been wanting all winter. Â So yeah, we have turned Wendy from a mild mannered person into a well armed killing machine.
Mark gave her a pair of Sennheisser HD 201 headphones.
Mark also gave her a bamboo cutting board and four piece cheese knife set (I had no idea cheese knives were a thing until now). Â Both of these will be used for a large charcuterie board tomorrow afternoon for lunch.
Mark also gave her a pair of Thinsulate photography gloves so she can get outside and use her camera more this winter.
Santa Claus gave WendyÂ a new LED tactical flashlight. Â She wasnâ€™t thrilled that it was bright pink or that it was called the â€œMaidenâ€ but she does love that it is powerful enough to blind Oliver and Mark if shown in their eyes. Â I just told her that Santa was trolling her. Â Santa also got her theÂ same pair of binoculars that he gave Oliver.
I was spoiled for Christmas.Â
Thanks to everyone, I really appreciate the gifts.
Today we will take some cameras out for a walk and then I will be home debating with Oliver whether or not an AH-64 attack helicopter has a chance against a X-Wing fighter.
I hope your Christmas has been as enjoyable as ours wherever you are reading this from.
Having raised Mark to the point where he is now in high school and with Oliver in Grade 1, I have some experience in Christmas shopping for school aged boys.Â You can read my gift guide for teenagers here and my ideas for what to get a school aged boy below.Â If you have any other suggestions or ideas, let me know in the comments.
Includes Batman, Man-Bat and Night Wing (who used to be Robin).Â You child will be saving Gotham non-stop with this set.
All-new Fire HD 6 or Fire HD 7 tabletâ€”with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, Kid-Proof Case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee
- A real tablet, not a toyâ€”A quad-core processor for great performance, a vivid HD display, front and rear-facing cameras, and Dolby Audio
- Built for even the toughest kidsâ€”Enjoy the peace of mind with an unprecedented 2-year worry-free guaranteeâ€”if they break it, return it and we’ll replace it for free. No questions asked
- Don’t worry about the billâ€”The Kids Edition includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited so kids get unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and gamesâ€”at no additional cost. Learn more
- Starts in Amazon FreeTimeâ€”Built from the ground up for kids, the background color and fonts change to a kid-friendly design. Kids can navigate visually to content based on characters or topics. Parents can exit Amazon FreeTime mode with a passcode
- Best-in-class parental controlsâ€”Personalize screen time limits, set educational goals, and choose which titles kids can access from your own personal content collection
- Take and edit photos in Amazon FreeTimeâ€”Snap photos within Amazon FreeTime mode using front and rear cameras. Fun editing tools lets kids explore their creative side by adding stickers, drawing on their pictures, and more
- Kid-Proof Caseâ€”Durable, lightweight case to protect against drops and bumps caused by kids at play.
We gave OliverÂ Wendyâ€™s old Kobo Vox tablet last year.Â We tossed on some educational games, some apps, and he loves it.Â We did the same with an old 2nd Gen iPod Touch that we loaded up with music.Â He is careful and responsible with it.Â With the Amazon Fire HD case and apps, it makes introducing your child to a computer even easier.
This time it is Spiderman saving The Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jamieson from certain doom.Â The only question I have is, will Peter Parker get a picture of Spiderman.
Nerf guns are all over our house.Â There is nothing quite like wandering down into my basement and being ambushed by both my kids.Â If you want to add to their arsenal of fun Nerf weapons that are good inside and out, consider the Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster.Â Five bullets and lots of fun.
If you want to survive those ambushes, you may want to pick up one of these for yourself.
There are a great gift.Â Indoor hockey played on your knees has been a Canadian tradition for decades.Â So has mothers complaining about having to patch the knees of pants.Â Of course with them being sized or indoor use, they are perfect for when it is too cold to play outside.
The old classic is still around.Â It includes 86 all wood pieces.
If you donâ€™t have your own Batcave, this is the second best thing.
How cool is this.Â An R2-D2 that projects the time onto the walls.Â â€œHelp me Obi-Wan, you are our only hope of waking up on timeâ€¦â€
A great option for the kid who struggles to wake up is the Lego Star Wars Storm Trooper alarm clock.Â Plus nothing helps you sleep well than knowing you are beside an elite trooper who lost a key battle to a bunch of Ewoks.
- $24 from Amazon.Â If your child is superhero fan more than Star Wars, there are Batman and Superman Lego alarm clocks for $30
We passed down an iPod Shuffle to Oliver a couple of years ago.Â It is small and easy for him to use.Â Even the 2gb version is enough to load him up with music for the longest of roadtrips.Â Combine it with these kid-friendly Batman Headphones and you have a gift that they will love as much as you love the silence.
Kid Safe headphones have a volume limiter meaning that your child will not be at risk of hearing damage.Â Over the ear design also means that they wonâ€™t get headaches either.Â Â Itâ€™s a great add on to the Kindle Fire for Kids or the iPod Shuffle.
Sometimes kids want to listen to their music out loud!Â For those times, a portable, small, and rechargeable speaker that provides great sound is the way to go.Â Â Â It provides great sound but wonâ€™t overpower your house.Â Â The also have a modular “Buddy-Plug” Design: Integrated stowaway 3.5mm stereo audio jack plug and socket connects multiple XBOOM Mini Portable Capsule speakers together for maximum sound.Â So if one isnâ€™t getting the job done, you can keep adding speakers.Â They are compatible with any device that has a headphone jack, so phones, iPods, or any MP3 player.
Despite the game being for players 10 and older, Oliver has been loving the game for a couple of years.Â Â Instead of getting your child a game that only they will like for a year or two, why not start them playing some games the entire family can play for a lifetime?
Remember your first H0 model train set?Â How about a set that is modelled afterÂ Colorado’s oldest scenic line?Â It combines rich history, spectacular views and stylish accommodations into a train that takes you on a 24-mile journey through the 1,000 Feet deep Royal Gorge. Passengers travel alongside the Arkansas River on a ribbon of rail for an up-close nature show deep in the canyon, observing bald eagles, blue heron, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and flora native to the gorge.
How much fun would any kid have opening this set on Christmas morning?
The Hohner HAG250P is a handcrafted classical guitar with an Agathis top back and sides. This wood match-up creates a crisp texture to the overall sound of the instrument. The smaller scale of this instrument (considered 1/2 sized) is specially designed with the younger player in mind and is highly recommended for the players that are starting between the ages of 5-9. This instrument also comes equipped with light gauge nylon strings for easier fingering as to not discourage the first time player.
Spy Gear for His Latest Adventure
Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools like a Micro Ear Light, Micro Listener, Micro Motion Alarm and Invisible Ink Pen on every surveillance mission
The coolest utility belt that doesnâ€™t belong to Batman.
Because every great adventure needs a team and a two mile radius is very, very impressive.
Looking at what to get the photographer in your life for Christmas? Â Here are some ideas that are sure to make every photographers Christmas season.
Well a camera is a pretty big gift but there are some spectacular options from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Pentax in 2014. Â Take a look below.
It was the announcement that everyone was waiting for this fall and it is now here. Â The Canon 7D Mark II features:
- 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000
- High spped continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps
- 65-point all cross-type AF system
- Stunning Full HD video with Custom Movie Servo AF (speed and sensitivity)
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder
- Body Only is $1799 & Canon 7D II with 18-135 lens is $2149 at Amazon where it is their best selling DSLR
While Canon has their hit camera with the Canon 7D Mark II, Nikon has their own hit with the Nikon D750 which is the successor to the famous D700.Â
Here are the Nikon D750â€™s highlights.
I have long been a long time Pentax user and for me, this camera personifies everything that is right with Pentax right now. Â
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, selectable on/off of anti-aliasing filter
- 8.3 frames per second continuous shooting
- 27-point AF system with 25 cross sensors and 3 low-light AF sensors
- ISO 80-51,200
- 1080 60p/50p/30p/24p HD video (H.264)
If you are considering making the switch to a mirrorless camera, then you really need to look at the Olympus OM-D lineup, especially the E-M1 and the lower priced E-M10. Â Both using the Micro Four/Thirds mount and have in body stabilization. Â The combination means there are countless lens from Olympus, Panasonic, and most recently Sigma that can all be used.
- The body only version will set you back $699 while the kit with the included 14-42 lens will cost you $799
Sony has three current Sony RX-100 cameras, all at different price points. Â All of them are 20 megapixels, compact, and great in low light. Â The reason you want one is that they are a remarkable camera to have you at all time and are being used by photographers like Bryan Scott (publishes Winnipeg Love Hate) and CTVâ€™s Tom Podolec who have captured amazing images with the RX-100â€™s over the last year or so. Â The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have raved about the camera. Â Basically if you donâ€™t Sonyâ€™s RX-100, you didnâ€™t want a compact camera in the first place.
So you get the perfect lens or camera on Christmas morning and then realize that it is -22 degrees Celsius out where you want to try it out. Â Wonderful. Â Now you have to wait till March. Â
There is another solution and that is the Thinsulate Freehands photography gloves. Â Keeps your hands warm while giving them the freedom to take the photos you want.
The Theta from Ricoh is a compact and lightweight (3.3 oz.) camera that has a lens on both the front and back, allowing you to take full 360 Degree spherical panoramic images in with one shot and 3 minute videos. The device is synchronized with smartphones, where images can be immediately transmitted via Wi-Fi and viewed with a dedicated free app. The app also allows images to be pinched, swiped or rotated to edit size, shape and composition. Images uploaded to theta360.com can be shared on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as Microsoft Corporationâ€™s Photosynth. IOS and Android free apps for viewing and capturing images.
There is a better way to carry your camera and it is a Black Rapid strap
A great stocking stuffer for the photographer on your list. Â It features an old school colourful design which is a lot more exciting then the strap that came with your camera.
Tripods that can do this are surprisingly useful.
I Shoot People
Perfect gift for the portrait photographer on your list.
Best photo editing software on the planet and you can get it for PC or Mac. Â Amazing gift if they are still using Picasa or iPhoto.
This kit provides 375 Watts of continuous lighting and it is a very good start for beginners. Entire kit sets up in minutes, and very easy to operate. Â An incredible gift to someone who is thinking of setting up an in home or portable studio, a documentary project or just wants some good lights at their disposal.
Sometimes itâ€™s best you not take your DSLR with you (like into the pool or ocean). Â I personally love this camera. Â Small form factor, ruggedized and it takes great photos.
You can pay a lot for a camera bag from ThinkTank, Kata, or LowePro or you can get this bag from Amazon for $30. Â Your choice.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. Â There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Â Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Â Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.
In case you are shopping for the great outdoorsman, here are a list of suggestions for those who often prefer to outdoors rather than inside. Check out the other Christmas gift ideas that have been posted this season.
All three of us have sling packs from MEC and they work as great daypacks. They each have a water bottle, flashlight, notebook and pens in them all of the time. When it is time to go, we toss in our phones, iPods, headphones, snacks and a compact camera and we are ready to go. They are big enough to carry what you need yet small enough to bring along with you anywhere. We really like them.
These are great camera/GPS/iPod cases. They are water proof, padded, floatable, and strong enough to take a lot of abuse in the back of your trunk or any backpack. While you may not use it when you head to the park, you will use them when you are packing for a trip and don’t want your iPod, camera, or phone to be crushed. They are pretty much indestructible which means that of all of the things you have to worry about, this isn’t one of them.
The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised. The Vibram Five Fingers shoes are designed to simulate walking barefoot while protecting your feet like shoes do. If you have any questions, check out the reviews on Amazon.
Now you’re ready to lighten your load and boost your survival skills — with Leatherman’s Skeletool. At a mere 5 ounces the new, full-sized multitool keeps weight and volume to a minimum without sacrificing quality and true functionality, and that’s what the Skeletool is all about. Many multitools have multiple options, but they’re often heavier and they’re loaded with more features than most people actually need on a regular basis. Conversely, pocket knives are light and streamlined, but they render themselves useless when the task calls for a more versatile tool. Enter the new Skeletool platform, offering minimal weight, compact size and endless capabilities. And with the Skeletool’s integrated, removable pocket clip, you can easily clip this tool onto a belt, a pack, or a vest with no sheath or tote required.
If you are a cyclist, you want this.
Use the built-in GPS with the free PlayMemories Home software to track your speed and performance. Location, trail and speed information add more layers to your ability to analyze your performance that can be captured and displayed on your video.
The camera itself is splash proof but it does come in a waterproof case. Unlike the GoPro, the Sony HDR-AS100 is image stabilized which means smoother video no matter how rough of ride you are taking.
If the Jetboil Personal Cooking System isn’t what you are looking for, check out the MSR Pocket Rocket stove. The PocketRocket backpacking stove from MSR provides full cooking function in an incredibly efficient form. Barely noticeable in your pack, it delivers precision flame control from torch to simmer while the Wind Clip wind shield boosts efficiency in breezy conditions. The PocketRocket stove’s diminutive size is also the foundation of a solid emergency kit for home or trail.
The DoubleNest allows room for one, two, three, or however you decide to pack 400lbs. The DoubleNest seats more than one person comfortably and is essential for family adventures. The DoubleNest still packs down to the size of a grapefruit, so there is no excuse to be without your ENO hammock.
Now there is no reason to bring that horrible tasting Starbucks Via coffee with you when you go camping or hiking. Instead bring some fresh ground coffee or loose leaf tea with you and make some excellent coffee when ever you want with this outdoor coffee press. Of course you won’t bring a bean grinder with you on most trips but it gives you an idea of what it takes to make a good cup of coffee while on the road. Of course you need something to drink it from. You may want to check out some excellent stainless steel coffee mugs/beer mugs to drink from.
Garmin’s eTrex GPS series offers reliable satellite navigation, making it a favorite of hikers, hunters, and geocachers. The eTrex 20 is equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, a 2.2-inch color display, and ships with a worldwide basemap with relief. Add a wide array of detailed topographic, marine, and road maps, and start mapping out your next adventure.
Designed for ounce-conscious backpackers and climbers, the Black Diamond Orbit lantern packs 45 lumens of bright, non-glaring light in an ultra-portable package. A DoublePower LED (1-watt) works with Black Diamond’s dual reflector system and frosted globe to illuminate everything from tent-bound reading to pre-dawn racking. A collapsible, double-hook hang loop attaches to tent ceilings and tree branches alike. Mark and I both have one and they are simply amazing. They are highly rated on REI, MEC, and Amazon.com and are loved by all that use them. Whether you are a camper, hiker, or even a family who needs a safety light in the car, these are a must have.
Alert vehicles and help keep track of your dog at night. The UFO light is designed specifically for runners, hikers and dogs. The light easily attaches to 1” webbing, dog collars, clothing, with a small carabineer. Five red LEDs put out highly visible red light in three modes – steady, flash and rotate. Its waterproof design makes it ideal for any weather.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.
What do you get for the teenaged boy on your Christmas list. The easy way out is cash and gift cards. We aren’t going to take the easy route out. We are doing this the hard way and come up with a list that any teenager would love.
$150 for a cutting edge tablet? I’m okay with that. The Asus MeMo tablet runs a 1.33 GHz Quad-Core Intel Atom processor, Android 4.4 KitKat, more than enough RAM to run the latest applications and 16 gb of storage for videos, music, and homework. It also has a .3 megapixel front facing camera and a 2 megapixel rear facing camera
We gave Mark my old Pentax K-x to him for his birthday and he loves it. The advantage of Pentax over other DSLR’s is build quality. The K-50 has over 80 water seals in it. This means that the teen you are shopping for can take it far more places and adventures than other DSLRs. The other advantage is the amazing price. At under $500 (with a 18-55mm lens) it is one of the least expensive DSLR’s out there right now.
The PENTAX K-50 is a mid-level DSLR with fast, advanced functionality, all wrapped up in bold colors. Featuring specifications of a top level DSLR, enjoy a 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, fast continuous shooting at six frames per second, high sensitivity shooting up to ISO 51200, 100% field of view, innovative in-body shake reduction, and an advanced auto focus module with four optional focusing screens, not to mention the PENTAX-original weather-sealing. Also enjoy full 1018p HD video capture, and eye-fi card compatibility for fast and easy image sharing.
At the end of the day, you aren’t buying your teen a DSLR for them, you are buying it for the family time you will spend together shooting it. This summer Mark, Oliver, Wendy, and I went for countless walks, hikes, and adventures together for no other reason than to shoot from photos and see what we could see together.
If you are wondering about available lens for Pentax, check out my guide to Pentax DSLR lens that I wrote this summer.
- You can purchase a Pentax K-50 DSLR at Amazon for $486 which is an amazing price for a DSLR.
There is a good choice that your teen has an iPod or phone that plays music already. The music is great but one overlooked thing is what do you play it on. Sennheisser headphones are a great bet. The Sennheiser HD201 Stereo Headphones prove to be a low priced alternative to high-end studio headphones.With great clarity, the Sennheiser HD201 headphones are the ideal entry into the world of powerful stereo sound. These excellent headphones also boast great attenuation of ambient noise and outstanding comfort at an affordable price.
- $25 at Amazon. $50-75 everywhere else.
Tursion is making tablets affordable for use by anyone, not just artists. This high-quality Tursion drawing tablet is priced just right, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of a graphic tablet. It includes several software utilities, such as PenSigner and PenMail, which allows you to use handwritten signatures, adding a personal touch to what is usually thought of as an impersonal medium. Easy to install and to use,
We gave one to Mark last year for his birthday and he has loved it. It works with almost any kind of Windows XP/Vista/7/8 software has allowed him expand is skills and talents as an artist.
Royal & Langnickel Sketching and Drawing Easel Set is a comprehensive 104 piece collection of artist materials ideal for the beginner, student, or artist. This set features a wide assortment of pencils, pastels, and paints fitted into a convertible, two-drawer chest that opens to reveal a third tray of product. The storage chest converts into a sturdy table-top easel. An outstanding collection of tools for your studio or an ideal gift for an artist or serious art student.
You aren’t just giving a gift when you give a telescope as a gift. You are opening up the wonders of the universe. All of Celestron’s PowerSeekers include a full range of eyepieces plus a 3x Barlow lens that provides an increase in viewing power hundreds of times greater than that of the unaided eye!
- The Celestron PowerSeeker is Amazon’s best selling telescope an is only $99.99. With it you will be able to explore more of the Milky Way than you ever thought possible.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.
When author Richard Flanagan finished his latest novel, relative poverty forced him to contemplate getting a job in the mines in northern Australia. His Booker Prize win has spared him a life underground for the time being, but he did not waste the opportunity to acknowledge in his speech that â€œwriting is a hard life for so many writers.â€
And itâ€™s only getting worse, as Elizabeth Renzetti wrote wrote recently in these pages. Twelve thousand dollars â€“ thatâ€™s the figure the Writersâ€™ Union of Canada estimates as the average annual income writers make from their writing in this country. I remember what itâ€™s like to live on $12,000. You live in a shabby apartment furnished with hand-me-downs from your parents and garbage-picked gems, you allot $25 a week for food and you wear a borrowed dress when youâ€™re invited to a gala fundraising dinner for writers at a fancy hotel. You take the subway there. If you are in your late 20s, as I was then, itâ€™s fine, you make do because you are doing what you love and most people donâ€™t have that extraordinary privilege.
You donâ€™t squander that privilege. You work your ass off. And hopefully youâ€™re rewarded for that effort. It worked for me, as it did for many writers of my generation, perhaps the last for whom it was possible to live off their writing. In Britain, writersâ€™ incomes have fallen by 30 per cent in the past eight years, collapsing to what one Guardian headline called â€œabjectâ€ levels.
So many writers I know are looking back at this point in mid-life and saying, â€œI had a good run.â€ A good run saw us earn increasingly bigger if still modest advances. (Yes, $75,000 sounds like a lot, but when it takes five years to complete a book and your agent is taking a cut of 15 per cent, youâ€™re still below the poverty line if this is your sole source of income.) Publishers were once able to invest in a career, with income from bestsellers offsetting the less sensational works in a catalogue. Now, every book has to be a winner. If you fail to earn out your advance through sales, your next advance will be lower, or perhaps, as has become increasingly the case among my mid-career contemporaries, you will lose your publishing home.
Writing seems to have become one of the few careers where the more experienced and proficient you become over the years, the less you are compensated. And the humiliations of this are great. It does become difficult to uphold belief in the worth of your work. And since this is work intrinsically tied to oneâ€™s sense of self, it becomes difficult to uphold a sense of self-worth. It takes ego and adrenalin to work in solitude, through years of confusion and uncertainty, in the writing of a book. If you donâ€™t believe in it, no one else will. Of course, there is reward in art for artâ€™s sake, but few can sustain morale, motivation or mortgage on an income of private aesthetic fulfilment.
It is Wendy again with my second Christmas gift guide of 2014. So you may have heard of Jordon’s brother Lee. Lee is a great brother to Jordon, great brother-in-law to me, and an even better uncle to Mark and Oliver. If you have a brother-in-law like Lee, here is some Christmas and holiday gift ideas for him.
Generation Kill is a television miniseries produced for HBO, based on the 2004 book of the same name by Evan Wright about his experience as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was adapted for television by David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright. Jordon and Mark loved it when they saw it. So will your brother-in-law.
The Sennheiser HD202II are closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Good insulation against ambient noise and a deep bass response make them the ideal companion for DJs – or anyone who likes to listen to modern, powerful music without disturbing others. High efficiency drivers for maximum performance. They are some amazing headphones for a really inexpensive price.
Get him a remote control quadcopter controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. You can record 720p high-definition live video streaming & recording to smartphone or tablet while flying which a wide variety of preprogrammed cinematic effects. Plus it is a remote controlled helicopter. How much fun will he have with that?
It fires off five frames per second, records hi-def video, and shoots in Raw, a format that allows for maximum post-processing. But the QS-1s biggest selling point is also its most obvious: it’s the smallest interchangeable-lens camera in existence at around 7 ounces. They can play pro everywhere they go.
Canon just came out with their most anticipated camera of the year with the Canon 7D Mark II. A camera that is designed for photographing sports and wildlife.
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II GPS Digital SLR Camera features a refined APS-C sized 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors for gorgeous imagery. It shoots up to 10 frames per second at ISOs ranging from 100-16000 (expandable to H1: 25600, H2: 51200), has a 65-point all cross-type AF system and features Canon’s amazing Dual Pixel CMOS AF for brilliant Live-View AF. It has dual card slots for both CF and SD cards, USB 3.0 connectivity and even has built-in GPS for easy location tagging.
Includes Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Zoom Lens.
Are you going to shell out $2149 for your brother-in-law or brother this Christmas? That’s for you decide but let me tell you one thing. If you get him this camera, he’ll love it.
Winners of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row and with hundreds of other contest ribbons as well, nobody does barbecue better than Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Chris Lilly, executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and great-grandson-in-law of Big Bob himself, now passes on the family secrets in this quintessential guide to barbecue.
From dry rubs to glazes and from sauces to slathers, Lilly gives the lowdown on Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q’s award-winning seasonings and combinations. You?ll learn the unique flavors of different woods and you?ll get insider tips on creating the right heat?be it in a charcoal grill, home oven, or backyard ground pit. Then, get the scoop on pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, pit-fired poultry, and, of course, ribs.
The Magellan eXplortst 310 GPS receiver provides essential outdoor navigation with a high-resolution colour screen, waterproof design, paperless geocaching, and superior mapping, including preloaded World Edition and upload able map capability. Jordon has one and loves it. Your brother-in-law will love his as well every time that he leaves the road. Make sure you include a Pelican 1050 waterproof case for $26.
The board, which comes housed in a solid oak cabinet, is made of a high-grade, “self-healing” sisal that looks smooth and lasts for years. Scoring is handled by the pair of chalk scoreboards–one on the inside of each door–that make it easy to tally scores for several players at once. And below each chalkboard sits a shelf that holds a single set of brass darts (included), so you needn’t worry about misplacing the darts between games. It’s the oak cabinet that really stands out, however, thanks to its durable finger-joint construction and light oak finish.
The cabinet not only hides your board from view when you’re not playing and protects your wall from errant darts when you are, but also looks great amidst both traditional and modern furnishings. The cabinet, which measures 18.5 by 20 by 2.5 inches (W x H x D) when closed. Plus its better that he is throwing things at his walls rather than your walls.
Invented in 1866 by Alfred Nobel, dynamite’s cylindrical shape perfectly fit down the drilling holes used in mining operations. When the charges were set, the now-famous phrase “fire in the hole” was cried to warn miners of the coming blast. Though the contents of this sturdy wood crate will not move mountains, they will start your fireplace. One look at the realistic “dynamite” crate will have family and friends looking twice. Each cedar wood crate contains 20, 8″L x 1-1/4″W, fire-starter sticks. They are made of paraffin and sawdust for a long, hot burn. Each stick will burn approximately 30 minutes setting ablaze even the most stubborn wood.
Plus there is the joy that comes from yelling, €œFire in the hole € every time he lights a fire.
If your brother-in-law is an outdoors type, help him a little extra fun to his outdoor cooking adventures with the Jetboil Flash personal cooking system. The all-in-one Flash combines an adjustable stainless-steel burner and a 1-liter FluxRing cooking vessel in a single compact unit.
The all-in-one Flash cooking system boils 2 cups of water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or other meals.
To use, simply add water or liquid to the 1-liter cooking cup and fix it to the burner. Within two minutes, the Flash will provide two cups of boiling water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or a gourmet freeze-dried meal. It’s easy, convenient, and fun. Plus, everything you need stacks and stores inside the FluxRing cooking cup, including the burner and fuel canister.
If the brother-in-law that you are shopping for is into camping and the outdoors, check out the Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoorsmen and Adventurers or my guide for the men in your life.
Each year I put together some holiday and Christmas gift guides for the people in your life. Wendy wrote the first one and here is my first one; a holiday and Christmas guide for the women in your life.
Wendy is hard to shop for. She never makes a list until it’s too late and doesn’t really crave a whole bunch of things which makes Christmas (and birthday) shopping hard. In case your wife is awesome like Wendy but hard to shop for, here are some Christmas gift ideas to consider.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
The alluring Original Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant, crafted in 925 Sterling Silver. This beautiful design is set with 1 Heart Shape stone prong set , 1 stone prong set colorless Round Cubic Zirconia. This product measures 8 mm wide, 18 mm long and is a great looking while affordable necklace and pendant.
Why would you get her a iPod Nano when she probably has a smart phone. Two reasons. Smartphones tend to fill up with apps and if you have a 8gb or even a 16gb iPhone, she may not have enough room to have much music on it. The second reason is that she may have an Android or a Blackberry meaning that managing your music with iTunes is a pain in the neck.
An iPod Nano gives her 16gb of storage in an extremely compact package. It may not do everything that her phone or an iPod Touch does but it plays her music really well at an affordable price.
Wendy has always loved music and has always wanted a massive stereo system. Since we have a small home, the dream has never come true. Lucky for Wendy there are some excellent compact speaker systems as options. Here are a few of them.
I have traditionally recommended the Bose Wave home audio system. It provides legendary sound, is $499 but has fallen behind the times. It bugs me that even with the new version you have to add an optional and costly Bluetooth receiver to stream music wirelessly from your iPod. Yet if the women you are shopping for still prefers CDs to iTunes, it is probably the best audio system you can get for her.
For the iPod/Android crowd, I am suggesting you get her a Big Jambox.
The Big Jambox turns any mobile device (phone, tablet, media player, computer) into a portable, hi-fi sound system that wirelessly delivers amazingly clear, full audio at any volume.
- They are available from Amazon and are $277. If cost or size are a factor, check out the Jambox Mini for $99.
Help keep her warm this winter with a faux fur blanket. Perfect for outdoor, watching TV. Stay warm this winter and feel great with this faux fur throw. Unbelievably soft and plush. Dynamic decor piece to throw over a couch or chair, it serves as a fashionable, functional accent piece. Perfect blanket to cuddle up on a chilly evening without any of the guilt and cost of using real mink fur.
The ultimate garden book “both a collection of gardens from around the world and a resource for those seeking inspiration on garden design and planting. Featuring over 250 permanent gardens by leading garden designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects, from the 14th century to the present day, and covering all key types and styles of garden, this well illustrated compendium combines images, text, key information and captions for each of the featured gardens, appealing to both amateur and professional gardeners, as well as garden designers.
Samsung’s Chromebook laptop has been deemed by many to be a success. Lightweight, inexpensive and practical as everything operates off your Google Drive, the Chromebook is great for any career woman on the move.
Chromebooks are great if you are comfortable with using Google Apps but if she is the type that wants to do more with a computer, check out the Acer Aspire E-11 Netbook.
It runs Windows 8.1, has 2gb of RAM, and is totally silent as it is cooled passively. No fans means no noise. It’s only $200, runs iTunes, some games, Microsoft Office (or Open Office). An amazing netbook for the money.
Jean Dubost Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set is a great holiday gift for anyone who loves hosting a great dinner party and doing so in style.
This set of cheese service knives includes a spreader for soft cheeses like Montrachet a serving knife for Gruyere and Gouda and a cleaver for hard cheeses such as Parmigiano. Sparkling stainless steel handles carry the signature logo of the Laguiole ‘Bee’. A wooden gift and storage box completes this gourmet set.
Wendy works full time and then has to come home to a household of two sons and me. In other words she puts up with days that make mine seem like a meditation retreat. Give your wife a break from the chaos with these noise cancelling headphones. If you are on a budget, check out the Sony MDR-NC7 Noise Cancelling headphones for about $40 or JVC HANC250 Noise Cancelling Headphones for about $120.
She’ll love this mug.
Wendy has sensitive skin and watches irritate her horribly. So when I gave Wendy this Timex Ironman watch, she had some serious doubts over whether or not she could wear it. A year later, she is still wearing it every day. Because the watch and band are all one piece, it is an incredibly comfortable watch to wear. Because it is from Timex, it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.
It is only $27 at Amazon and if you ask Wendy, she will tell you it is worth five times that amount.
Here is what you want to know: Yes, the Kindle Voyage is better than the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s thinner, faster, brighter, lighter, newer, has a better screen, has more memory (4GB vs last year’s Paperwhite’s 2GB) commands more magical elf armies, owns a Ferrari, and is nicer to your grandmother.
The iRobot Roomba 880 is the ultimate high performance robotic vacuum cleaner. Featuring the revolutionary new AeroForce Performance Cleaning System and AeroForce Extractors, it’s proven to remove up to 50% more dirt, dust, hair, debris and harmful allergens from all floor types and is virtually maintenance free.
Of course the best part of this gift is that it saves you and her time, time that you can spend together.
So there you go. I assume I have forgotten, many, many ideas so let me know what I have forgotten the comments below. You can check out the other Christmas and holiday gift guides while you are at it.
Hi, it’s Wendy. Every year I write a Christmas Gift Guide for those of you who are shopping for the men (boyfriends, brothers, husbands, fathers) in your life. The highly organized of you out there are already searching for Christmas gifts (as evidenced by the increased page views of previous years Christmas Gift Guides) so I decided that I had better kick off the 2014 edition before I hand the rest of them of to Jordon (although I will return to author a post on Christmas gifts for the cook). So here goes. Let me know what you think of these gifts in the comments.
I know recommending an iPad is like picking low hanging fruit but the new iPad Mini’s with a retina display is amazing. The new retina display has over 3.1 million pixels, which is a million more than a HDTV.
I never recommend that anyone uses the back camera of a tablet ever (you look ridiculous while using it as a camera), but the front facing camera of the iPad Mini with Retina Display is high definition and makes Apple Facetime (or Skype) video calls look fantastic which could be a killer feature if you or your loved one travels a lot. Staying in touch is important.
If the man you are Christmas shopping for is an iPhone or a Mac user, it’s an great addition (or upgrade) from a previous iPad (which may or may not support iOS 8)
- Starting from $399 at the Apple Store or only $345 at Amazon
If the man you are shopping for is an Android user, check out the new Nexus 7 from Google. It thinner, lighter, and faster. It’s not quite as sharp as the iPad Mini but it has a whopping 2.3 million pixels in the palm of your hand. So even if he has an older tablet, this is a great reason to upgrade with Google’s flagship Android tablet. With 323 pixels packed into every inch, you can read text that’s sharper than the printed page, see images more vivid than the highest quality photo magazine, and watch videos come to life in vibrant 1080p HD. He’ll love it.
- He will love the technology, you will love the price. It’s only $199 for the 16gb version on Amazon
Whether you get him an Android or iOS powered device, he is probably going to want to chill out with it which means he will need a great set of headphones. Money doesn’t mean quality (most people find Beats by Dre to be over priced and provide underwhelming sound despite their popularity). Here are some highly recommended headphones from well respected electronics website, The Wirecutter which tests hundreds of headphones every year.
Here is what The Wirecutter said about them:
The MDR-7506 have been a studio staple for years, and there’s a great reason why: Not only do they have an even response across the entire frequency range, the 7506 have better sonic depth and dexterity than many headphones twice their price. Plus, they are durable, comfortable, and reliable. And at a current retail price of less than $90, their performance was better than some of the competition that cost almost twice as much.
If you are on a budget, The Wirecutter recommends the Panasonic RP-TCM125K in ear headphones. We got a pair for Mark and he loves them. For only $15, they were one of the best technology purchases that Jordonor I have ever made.
The Panasonic headphones won because they sounded the best. Hands down. They were everyone’s top choice in terms of sound fidelity. They have a nice overall balance with airy, mellow highs and present-but-not-dominating bass. They sound just as good listening to acoustic guitar as they do hip hop and rock. Nothing pierces, nothing muddies: every frequency plays well with the others. And as you’ll see with other contenders later, that’s not often the case in this price range.
- So yeah, $15 gets you a lot. Find them at Amazon.
So if your guy wants to share the music, movie, or game he is playing (let’s not share the game), you will want to check out the MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker by Logitech.
Logitech’s UE Mini Boom works because it’s a speaker that you’ll actually use. It’s so portable it fits in a jacket pocket, but the sound it produces has enough power to clearly fill a room and preserve the most important aspects of the song being played. On top of that, despite retailing for substantially less than the original Jambox, pretty much every reviewer agrees that it performs better.
A smaller option with a fantastic looking carrying case and carabineer that allow you to take this speaker even more places and on more adventures.
It’s small and protected enough to take with you on trips, back and forth to work or even take with you on a hike and day out of the city.
The chant gives you around six hours of listening on a single charge which is perfect for an evening around the fire or chilling out with friends.
- You can get it at Amazon for $68
If you know Jordon, you know that he is on 650 News Talk Radio twice a week with David Kirton on the Saskatoon Afternoon Show. So I have to include a tabletop radio. The Model One Bluetooth Table Radio has both an amazing tabletop radio experience with a Bluetooth speaker.
It’s costly at $269 but it would look amazing on any bookshelf while providing brilliant sound to listen to the Saskatoon Afternoon Show on or to listen to the podcast later on that evening. Even if the guy you are shopping for isn ‘ t a News Talk Radio fan, can you think of a better device to listen to ESPN Radio on while having a drink on the deck? I can’t either.
If he is more old school and doesn’t mind some cords to connect his iPhone to the speaker, check out the Sangean WR-11SE AM/FM Table Top Radio 40th Anniversary Edition.
These are fantastic mini-binoculars. While not as good as high end binoculars from Zeiss or even higher end Pentax, these are affordable and portable enough to take with you anywhere. Jordon keeps a pair of Nikon Realtree Binoculars in his go-bag at all times. If these had come out when he bought those, he would have picked these instead.
Jordon is a photographer and loves his Pentax K-30 DSLR. He bought a Pentax Q this summer and loved it. It doesn’t replace his K-30 (it offers none of the lens options or the low light performance) but is so incredibly portable and easy to take with you no matter where he is going. It’s not going to be the camera he takes with him to photograph Nuit Blanche or to shoot Mark’s football games but it has been great to take with him when we are heading out for a walk, exploring the city or just chasing after the kids. Pentax/Ricoh’s website gives you an idea of lens options but according to Jordon, you really only need four.
The best camera is the one that you have with you. If a Pentax Q-S1 isn’t what you are looking for, then take a look at the popular Nikon 1 series of cameras. The Nikon 1 J4 camera with 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm lens and 30-110mm telephoto zoom lens is a great combo.
At $1300 it isn’t cheap but you wouldn’t expect the best compact camera in the world to be inexpensive.
The Fujifilm FinePix X100was a milestone camera in the industry as one of the first large sensor, prime lens cameras to achieve widespread popularity. Its classic look, obviously cribbed from a certain German camera maker, were justified by the excellent image quality its 35mm equivalent f/2 lens could produce. It was also a rare example of a camera its maker continued to develop, long after it hit the market. The X100T is is the third generation X100 and is better than ever.
I bought Jordon an Apple TV last Christmas. He loves it but if the Google Chromecast was available in Canada last year, I probably would have gotten him one of those.
Here are the reasons he will love it.
- Stream online video, music, photos and more to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop
- Supports a growing number of apps including Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN, MLB.TV, Google Play Movies and Music, Plex, MLS, crackle, Vevo, Rdio. Allows to cast a Chrome browser tab.
- Box includes Chromecast, HDMI extender, USB power cable, and power adapter. No remote needed.
- Easy setup: Plug into any HDTV and connect to your home WiFi network
- Works with Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks
A new leather Dopp Kit ($34) with:
- Gillette Fusion Flexball ($12) or a Schick Hydro razor ($8).
- Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush
- Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with lid ($10) and Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Soap Refill ($20) or just go with the Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream Bowl ($15)
- Intuition for Men EDT spray ($80)
He will love using the gift and you will love how he looks and smells after. (if the price of leather is too high, check out this great dopp kit from MEC)
LL Bean’s Adventure Duffle now comes in soft yet rugged cotton canvas for a lasting combination of durability and classic style. It’s more or less the same great bag that people have been using since the 1940s. It now has a water-resistant coating and comes in a variety of colors. Meets airline carry-on size requirements if not over stuffed. It’s a great gift for the traveller.
Men love flashlights. It’s part of what makes them men. He needs a small one on his keychain, a tactical one (a universal one works too) to take with him on adventures and and a more heavy-duty one in your house and garage. You can’t go wrong with a classic Maglite. The LED bulb will last nearly forever, and heavy-duty aluminum casing gives it shock and water resistance.
For times when he leaves the houses and has to do manly things, he will want an amazing travelling thermos. Made with stainless steel, the Stanley Thermos is rustproof and BPA free. The 8-ounce lid doubles as a cup for your coffee, hot chocolate, or soup. Oh, and it keeps its contents hot/cold for 24 hours. Need more convincing? Didn’t think so.
A shoeshine kit makes the perfect gift; it’s something that no guy thinks to buy, but every guy needs. Buy a quality kit in a manly wooden box that has all the necessary accoutrements to keep your loved one’s shoes shining like a sheet of glass. Included in this set are two cloths, a tin each of brown and black polish, two sponge daubers, two 100% horsehair brushes, a shoe horn, and of course the handsome wood box.
Depending on how old the guy is you are shopping for, he may have grown up with an Atari 2600 gaming console. He can relive his wasted youth with this flashback system. 92 built in games, the console and two controllers for under $50. What’s not to like?
If he is younger and wasted his youth on a Sega Genesis or a Nintendo, check out this system. No built in games but it is a completely redesigned Nintendo and Sega system in the same system. Blades of Steel, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tecmo Super Bowl, and Super Mario all on the same console.
I know watches are passé now that we all have our smartphones (unless of course your watch is a smartwatch) but sometimes you don’t have your phone with you to whip out 20 times a minute. Other times you just need to look like an adult. In those times you need a watch that is rugged enough to survive and smart looking enough to wear out on the town.
The Timex Expedition watches were inspired by the field watches issued to soldiers during the first half of the 20th century and look great with a wide variety of get-ups. While there are more expensive name-brand versions out there, if you’re looking for a simple, yet handsome-looking watch and can’t bear the thought of having to shell out over $150 or more, this is perfect.
- Full size watch, 3 time zone settings for traveling, Maximum style and performance with water resistant leather strap
- Water resistant up to 50 meters, Indigo night light for low light conditions, Metal case construction for enhanced durability
- 24 hour chronograph with lap and split option
- Daily alarm
- Easy to use 24 hour countdown timer
He has probably checked out the GoPro channel on YouTube (and made you watch some of them). Whether he admits it or not, he wants one of these. Here is why:
- Built-In Touch Display: Frame your shots. Easily adjust settings. Play back videos and photos. Improved Camera Control: New dedicated button enables quick access to camera settings. Simplified menus make navigating settings easier than ever.
- Fast, Powerful Photo Capture: Captures high-quality 12MP photos at speeds of up to 30 fps.
- Built-In WiFi + Bluetooth: Delivers enhanced connectivity to the GoPro App, Smart Remote
- Durable + Waterproof to 131′ (40m): Designed to withstand extreme environments and conditions. Wearable + Mountable: Enables immersive self-capture during your favorite activities. Compatible with all GoPro Mounts: 60+ mounts and accessories – and counting – for capturing a wide variety of perspective and activities. GoPro App + Software: Control your camera remotely. View and share your content. Easily create gorgeous GoPro-style videos.
- Protune – Now for Video + Photos: Cinema-quality capture and manual control of color, ISO limit, exposure and more. Night Photo Lapse: Customizable exposure settings up to 30 seconds for single and Time Lapse Photos. Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts frame rates for optimal low-light performance. High-Performance Audio: New Audio System captures clean, high fidelity sound and nearly 2x the dynamic range. Ultra Wide-Angle Glass Lens: Enables engaging, immersive footage of you and your world. Selecable FOV: Three FOV settings – Ultra-Wide, Medium and Narrow – allow for a broad range of perspectives. HiLight Tag: Mark key moments while recording for easy playback, editing, and sharing. QuikCapture: Power on and record automatically with the press of a single button. SuperView: Captures the world’s most immersive wide-angle field of view.
Cast irons pans last a lifetime, cook your food evenly, and even impart a low dose of iron to your food. He’ll be making you bacon and eggs every single morning with this thing.
If you get him a great pen, he may actually start writing hand written letters. What would be better then sealing those letters with a wax seal. The fascinating history of the wax seal that dates all the way to the Middle Ages. The practice has changed very little since that time, and it’s easy to do yourself to bring some class to your correspondence. This kit contains one brass seal engraved with a letter of your choice, and four sticks of their supple sealing wax.
Speaking of writing, every man should keep a journal. If he is having trouble getting into this manly habit, perhaps what he needs is a journal so handsome and inviting it’s hard not to write in it. Wrapped up in leather, this journal will have him putting pen to paper in no time. Perfect as a travelogue for all of his 2015 adventures.
Craftsman is the gold standard when it comes to tools. This set comes with the Craftsman lifetime warranty, is made of alloyed steel, and better yet, will serve all your socket wrench needs. For the man in your life that isn’t terribly familiar with tools, this is a great set to have. It comes with two wrenches and 52 sockets, as well as a screwdriver with an interchangeable bit set.
If you know a man who spends a great deal of time outdoors, get him a nice pocket compass so he’ll never lose his way. Sure, GPS may be easier and more accurate, but batteries die and satellite connections can be disrupted. That’s when having a compass comes in handy. Get him one that he’ll pass on to his grandkids.
Jordon went to a super slim card wallet this year and has loved it. This is the thinnest wallet on the market and just makes a man’s life better.
The number one selling home product on Amazon. No wonder, it is a gift that will quickly save you money. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
With optimized beams, rubber grips, and tactical switches, Rayovac’s Sportsman lantern is ideal for use inside and out, whether you’re heading for the hills or camping out in your home during a power outage. Nicely compact and ultra-portable at just 7 inches tall and under 3.5 inches wide, the Rayovac lantern also provides an incredibly bright 240-lumen light that makes it a useful resource for outdoor adventures as well as for emergency preparedness.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.