Category Archives: technology

The Greatest video game QB of all time was?

According to Bill Simmons

3. Randall Cunningham (late-’80s, early-’90s): The best video game QB of all-time. You could roll him out to either side, scramble for first downs, throw 70 yards with him, avoid sacks … and he never self-destructed like he did in real life. Regardless of how his NFL career turned out, he’ll always have his video game career to fall back on.

How NHL’94 came to be

How NHL’94 came to be

Blake Harris, the author of Console Wars, has written a piece on how NHL ’94 came to be. For those unaware, NHL ’94 is one of the greatest sports video games ever created. This is the sort of attention to detail that made it so great:

For example, it could emulate the ambience of a game day NHL arena by including the proper organ music. The problem, though, was that each team’s organist played different songs. ‘That’s not a problem, actually,’ explained Dieter Ruehle, the organist for the San Jose Sharks (and previously for the Los Angeles Kings), ‘I can do that.’ True to his word, Ruehle provided EA with organ music for every team; and he didn’t just provide all of their songs, but also noted which music was blasted during power plays, which tunes were used to celebrate goals, and all the other inside info needed to make each arena feel like home. Ruehle was so diligent about getting it right and capturing that home crowd essence, that during a recording session at EA’s sound studio he asked:

‘The woman who plays the organ for the Washington Capitals has arthritis; would you like me to play the songs how they are meant to be played, or the way that she plays them because of her condition?’

‘Definitely the way she plays it!’ Brook answered, after a laugh.

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for Teens | 2015 Edition

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.

Asus Zenpad 7” 16GB Tablet

Asus Zenpad 7” 16GB Android Tablet

  • 7″ IPS Display (1024 x 600) with ASUS TruVivid technology for better visual experience
  • Intel Atom x3-C3200 Quad-Core, 64bit, 1.2GHz
  • 1G RAM, 16G Onboard Storage, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 2M/0.3M Dual Camera; 1 x microSD Card slot, support up to 64GB SDHC
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop

$100 for a cutting edge tablet?  I’m okay with that.  The Asus Zenpad tablet runs a 1.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Atom processor, Android 5.0, 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

While you are at it, pick up a case, Bluetooth keyboard, Micro SD card and a Bluetooth speaker.

Amazon Fire Tablet with a 7” Display

Amazon Fire Tabet with a 7" Display

For less then $50, you can get your teen a modern and functional tablet from Amazon.  If you get the $49.99 version, it comes with advertising on the lock screen but for only $15 more, it has no advertising, just a fully functional tablet.  It’s a great deal.

Pentax K-50 DSLR

We gave Mark my Pentax K-30 to him after I upgraded this summer.  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.

Pentax K-50 Digital SLR from Don's Photo

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.

Ricoh WG-4

Ricoh WG-4 Ruggedized Camera

If you have a smaller budget, this Ricoh WG-4 is a great adventure proof camera.  It’s waterproof, crushproof, and has a built in GPS to record where you are when you take the photo.  It has a quick f2 lens, 16 megapixel CMOS sensor.  It is the perfect option to take into the backwoods, on a long road trip, or just attaching to your pack for a day out.  Like all WG series cameras, it comes with a wide series of mounts so it can attached to your bike, car, or helmet.  Not only are you getting a great camera but with the mounts you are getting many of the capabilities that a GoPro offers.

If you are looking seriously at a camera for your teen and aspiring photographer this Christmas, check out this post I wrote over at the Don’s Photo blog, it gives many more options than I listed here.

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

Sennheisser HD 202 II Headphones

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 HD202 Stereo Headphones prove to be a low priced alternative to high-end studio headphones.  Sure they may be asking for Dre Beats but Sennheisser headphones offer superior sound at a far better price.  No wonder they are the number one best selling headphones this year on Amazon.

Brainwavz Delta In Ear HeadphonesBrainwavz Delta IEM Earphones


If you are on a budget (and who isn’t) this Christmas, here are some fabulous looking and sounding headphones by Brainwavz at an affordable price.   Already named the best sounding headphones under $40 by the audiofiles at The Wirecutter, they offer one of the best values of this Christmas season.  And who doesn’t like a great pair of headphones for a really good price.

OontZ Angle 3 Ultra Portable Bluetooh Speaker

OontZ Angle 3 Ultra Portable Bluetooh Waterproof Speaker

One of the most popular and wished for items on  Brought to you by Cambridge Soundworks, this Angle is the latest in a line of amazing and affordable speaker systems.   It comes in comes in many color options and is 5.3 inches wide, 2.7 inches high, and 3 inches deep. It weighs 9 ounces, which makes it a lightweight unit.  Not only that but it is waterproof meaning that it can go where your teen goes.

Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches

Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches

Tucom 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/7/8/10 software has allowed him expand is skills and talents as an artist.

The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens by Sean Covey

The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens by Sean Covey

From Sean Covey, the author of the international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, this bestselling follow-up book builds upon the legacy of the 7 Habits and shows teens how to make smart choices about the six most crucial choices they’ll face during these turbulent years.

The challenges teens face today are tougher than at any time in history: academic stress, parent communication, media bombardment, dating drama, abuse, bullying, addictions, depression, and peer pressure, just to name a few. And, like it or not, the choices teens make while navigating these challenges can make or break their futures.

Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope

Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope

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!

Quest Super Cruiser Artisan Bamboo Longboard Skateboard

Quest Super Cruiser Artisan Bamboo Longboard Skateboard

Squier by Fender “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing” Set

Squier by Fender "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" Set

If he wants to be a rock star, what better way to get him started than with a Squire guitar and amp by Fender?  It comes with an electric guitar, amp, bag, strap, cables, and picks.  Basically everything he will need to rock out in 2015.

ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Person Tent

ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Person Tent

So many parents we talk to tell me that all their kid is sit inside and game all summer.  In part because that is where all of the money is spent.  Instead of a new Playstation 4 or a XBox One, why not get them some quality gear for the great outdoors?  This 2 person tent invites them to get outside, explore the world, and see what else is out there.  Whether it is a weekend at a nearby regional park or an overnight hike on a historic trail, give them the gear to go exploring in 2016.

It is a roomy 2 person backpacking tent. It has a Hubbed Shockcorded Aluminum Frame that is strong and durable. The Full Coverage Fly will protect the tent from the worst weather and has 2 Doors and 2 Vestibules for stowing excess gear out side the tent. Each Vestibule has an Adjustable Vent to help with ventilation. And the no-see-um mesh panels on the roof and walls will help keep the tent comfortable. So much mesh that you could leave the fly off for stargazing should the sky be clear. Other features include fully taped Fly and Floor seams, aluminum stakes, sturdy #8 zippers,

ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Series Self-Inflating Air Pad

ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Series Self-Inflating Air Pad

When you’re away from home and want to add extra comfort to your cot or sleeping bag, try this ALPS Mountaineering self-inflating air pad. Par of the lightweight series, this pad inflates and deflates quickly with the jet stream foam and rolls up compactly to fit into the stuff sack. The top fabric is tough, lightweight ripstop and the bottom is made of durable polyester taffeta. Another benefit of adding an air pad is that it will help keep you warmer, which is essential to a well-rested night at the campsite. A stuff sack, compression straps, and repair kit are included with every pad.

Energizer 90 Lumen Headlamp

Energizer 90 Lumen Headlamp

If they are going to explore, they are going to need to know where they are going at night.  For this, they will need a headlamp.

  • Four LED headlamp with three white LEDs and one red LED
  • Three modes: White (high & low), red for night vision
  • Pivots to direct light where you need it
  • 80 lumens of light output
  • 8.5 hour run time
  • Packed with three Energizer MAX AAA batteries
  • Water & impact resistant to stand up to harsh conditions.


Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stoves with Piezo Ignition

Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stoves with Piezo Ignition

Everyone has to start somewhere, and for beginning backpackers and campers there’s no better place to start than the Etekcity mini camping stove. There’s virtually zero setup and it’s extremely easy to use with no risk of fuel spills and no priming required.  We have one of these and it is the easiest stove I have ever used.  You just screw it into the fuel canister, turn it on, use the Piezo ignition system and away you go.

Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device

Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device

Even if your teen does get lost, he or she can always find their way back home with the D Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device from Bushnell

High-functioning GPS capabilities and a precision digital compass with latitude and longitude allow you to track any course by automatically keeping track of time, temperature, and altitude, along with route, length and speed. Once you mark one of five waypoints, it will also help you find your back to that place, whether it is a camp, a parking lot, or home.

Garmin eTrex 20x GPS

Garmin eTrex 20x GPS

The best selling sports GPS unit on Amazon is the new eTrex 20x is our upgraded version of the popular eTrex 20, with enhanced screen resolution and expanded internal memory so you can download a greater variety of maps than ever. This rugged, dependable GPS retains the ease of-use and affordability that eTrex is legendary for, with an array of compatible mounts for use on ATVs, bicycles, boats and cars. The new eTrex 20x also has the ability to track both GPS and GLONASS satellites simultaneously. It supports geocaching GPX files for downloading geocaches and details straight to your unit.

Christmas & Holiday Gift GuidesHoliday Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Guide for the Men in Your Life | 2015 Edition

It’s Wendy again.  I am here to write and publish this year’s inaugural Christmas Gift Guide on  As is custom around here, this is for all of the men on your holiday check list.  So whether you are shopping for a husband, boyfriend (hopefully you aren’t shopping for both), father, kids, or friends, I’ve got gift ideas for all of the men in your life.


Does anyone use CD’s anymore?  We don’t.  If we do get them, they are immediately ripped and then imported into iTunes to be played on our iPods.  From there they are played via Bluetooth.  So here is a selection of portable Bluetooth devices that will sound amazing anywhere that you bring them, even if the guy you are shopping for loves to play Bon Jovi.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It’s hands-free and always on. With seven microphones and beam-forming technology, Echo can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.

Echo connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service, to provide information, answer questions, play music, read the news, check sports scores or the weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo begins working as soon as it detects the wake word. You can pick Alexa or Amazon as your wake word.

Think of it at Siri for your home… or for you Iron Man fans out there, it’s getting close to what Jarvis is.

Amazon ECHOAmazon ECHO

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

The SoundLink Bluetooth speakers are among the most popular — if not, the most popular — portable wireless speakers in terms of sales.   I have listened to it a couple of times while out and about this year and they sounds amazing while filling a room beautifully.  Not only that but if you bring them on the road with your or even just into the backyard, they have a 14 hour battery life.

  • Purchase at AmazonHouse of Marley Chant Portable Bluetooth Audio System


    House of Marley Chant Portable Bluetooth Audio System

    Jordon has wanted one of these for a while.  This spring he went out and bought one.  It is battery powered (charges via a USB cable) and is a constant companion.  It is small enough to toss in a bag on a road trip which makes travelling a little more pleasant.  If you are buying for a road warrior or just someone who likes to chill outside while listening to music, this is a great gift idea.

  • Purchase at AmazonLogitech UE Mini Boom

    Logitech UE Mini Boom

    This is what The Wirecutter says about the Mini Boom

    This is the second year in a row that we’ve picked the Mini Boom as our top pick, but it’s the first time I’ve personally heard it. As an audio reviewer with a quarter century of experience, people often ask me what portable speaker they should get. It’s a difficult question to answer because they come in so many styles and sizes, and widely range in price, but the Mini Boom makes it easy.

    There’s so much to like about it and so little to dislike. In fact, if all my stuff disappeared tomorrow, the Mini Boom and our home Bluetooth pick would be the first audio products I’d buy. It plays about as loud as a large flat-panel TV set, and because it’s only about the size of half an orange, it’s easy to take almost anywhere. It sounds good enough that you can hear almost every element of a music track, from the cymbals all the way down to the lowest notes on a guitar (although maybe not the lowest notes on a bass).

    I have always thought of Logitech in terms of mice and trackballs.  Then Jordon went out and got a set of Logitech surround sound speakers for our television and I was surprised at how good they sound.  They had a way better sound than our soundbar and in 5.1 Dolby surround sound.  This little speaker has won a lot of awards and a lot of acclaim.  Logitech may not have the name that Bose does but it is a third the price and the sound quality is worth it.

  • Purchase at Amazon

Electrohome Archer Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Stereo System with Built-in Speakers


Backed by over 100 years of manufacturing high-quality audio products, Electrohome is pleased to introduce the Archer Turntable Stereo System: a fully automatic turntable with built-in speakers housed in a 60s-style suitcase that blends vintage charm with twenty-first century convenience.

Enjoying the classic style of a retro 60s turntable doesn’t mean you have to miss out on 21st century convenience; play songs from your smartphones, tablets, or USB flash drive using the system’s AUX and USB input. For private listening, simply connect your headphones and drift away into the world of vinyl without disturbing a soul.

It’s also the gift that keeps giving you gift ideas. From speakers to vintage records, there will always something you can keep adding to this gift.

Now on to headphones for those times when you don’t want to listen to what they are listening to.

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

These amazing headphones are the #1 best selling over the ear headphones from Amazon and for good reason.  They are consistently rated as excellent.  The Sennheiser HD 202 II 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.   Jordon bought me a pair to replace my other Sennheisers that Marley chewed up.  What you notice about them is the sound but also how comfortable they are.  You can listen to them for hours.

  • Purchase at AmazonIn Ear Headphones

    Don’t let them keep using the Apple earphones that came with their phone.  Upgrade their in-ear headphones with Brainwavz Delta Red In Ear Earphones With Remote & Mic.

    Brainwavz Delta Red In Ear Earphones With Remote & Mic

    Never heard of them?  Here is what The Wirecutter has to say about them.

    If I wanted to buy a cheap pair of earbuds to replace the ones included with my mobile device, I’d get the Brainwavz Delta with Mic. After spending 32 hours researching literally hundreds of in-ear headphones under $40, then seriously considering 179 and testing 68 with our panel of audio experts (40 last time, 28 this round), we came to a decision: The Brainwavz Deltas are the best for the money. Our panel unanimously voted them the best sounding of the entire bunch, plus they fit comfortably in most ears and are a total steal.

  • Purchase at AmazonPanasonic RP-TCM125-A In Ear Headphones

    My next suggestion is ones that we are big fans of around here and that is the Panasonic RPTCM125A Headphones Blue.  They were the winner last year on The Wirecutter and are runners up this year.  Here is why we love them.  The sound is excellent, the price is fantastic but they are so comfortable.  We have bought them for Mark and the advantage of getting these over more expensive headphones is that when the dog chews them, they get lost or stolen, it’s not the end of the world.  Great quality, comfortable, affordable price.

    Panasonic RP-TCM125-A In Ear Headphones

  • Purchase at AmazonComputers

    We spend all of these hours in front of our computers and for many people. they are still using the same keyboard and mouse that came out of the box with their desktop or laptop.  Upgrade their computer with a new keyboard, mouse, or trackball.  It’s a great gift and his hands will thank you for it.

    Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

    Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

    If the guy you are buying for spends a lot of time in front of computer as a writer, photo editor, or coder, get him a keyboard that is better that what came with her computer.  Perhaps one of the best ones out there is the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard.  It is split in the middle, has a nice touch and feel, and has a built in pad for your wrists.  Studies are inconclusive on whether or not they prevent carpal tunnel but they are a lot more comfortable to type on than a desktop or laptop computer keyboard.

  • Purchase from AmazonLogitech M570 Wireless Trackball

    Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball

    A trackball is something that so many people I know have loved as soon as they have gone to it yet it isn’t something that many of us are going to go out and get for ourselves.  One of these or a Microsoft Sculpt or Arc Touch mouse and the sculpt keyboard would be a great gift for any one who spends some time in front of a screen every day.

  • Purchase at AmazonLogitech HD Pro Webcam

    Logitech HD Pro Webcam

    Being seperated from family is tough.  So whether you are shopping for your husband, boyfriend, or father, treat them with a high definition webcam.  You can get one for them so you can benefit or get one and place it on your own computer so they can see you better.  Ideally you will both have one so you can have conversations in 1080p High Definition video.

    Breathtaking full HD 1080p calls on Skype, with the sharpest video-call picture available. 16:9 widescreen keeps you all in the picture. Easy HD 720p video calls on Yahoo! Messenger, Gmail Voice and Video Chat and most other favorite IM services.

    If he is still getting by on a 640×480 screen, upgrading to a Full HD webcam will make a world of difference.

  • Purchase at AmazonTablets

    So many of us have tablets now that we have even started to upgrade our older ones.  If the person you are shopping for has a tablet that is more than a few years old, it is time to upgrade it.  New processor, better battery life, and overall performance makes this upgrade a great gift.

    Amazon Fire 7” Tablet

    Amazon Fire 7" Tablet

    $49.99 for a tablet! Are you kidding me Amazon?  Despite the really low price, it has a Quad-core 1.3 GHz, 8 gb of storage (expandable of course), a VGA Front-facing camera + 2 MP rear-facing camera with 720p HD video recording.   As for battery life, it offers up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music

  • Purchase at Amazon (where else?)Google Nexus 9” Tablet

    Google Nexus 9 Tablet

    If the Kindle Fire is the best Android budget tablet out there, then here is the flagship, the Google Nexus 9.

  • 8.9” IPS LCD display with 4:3 aspect ratio constructed from Gorilla Glass 3
  • Dual front-facing speakers with HTC BoomSound
  • 8MP rear camera – 1.6MP front camera
  • 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 Dual Denver @ 2.3GHz CPU
  • Micro-USB 2.0For the accept no compromises Android user out there, this is the tablet they want.
  • Purchase at AmazoniPad Mini 4

    Apple iPad Mini 4


  • Purchase from AppleKenneth Cole Reaction Leather Messenger Bag

    Kenneth Cole Reaction leather messenger bag


    Upgrade his shoulder bag or backpack with a leather 4 inch double gusset flapover portfolio/ 15.4 inch computer case with pull through handle.  Stylish enough to take to work everyday and rugged enough to take with him on the weekends.

  • Purchase from AmazonFossil Card Wallet

    Fossil Men's Bradley Slim Card Case

    If he already has a great looking bag or maybe you are looking for something less expensive, check out the Fossil card wallet.  Jordon went to one of these a couple of years ago and he has loved it.  Low profile, fits in any pocket and carries enough cards and I.D. to keep you going while forcing you to ditch the other stuff that clutters up a wallet and weighs you down.

  • Purchase at AmazonTimex Expedition Field Watch

    Timex Expedition Field Watch

    The Timex Expedition field watch 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, this is perfect.  You can spend hundreds on a field watch but it’s hard to beat the quality you get from a Timex Expedition for the cost you are paying.

    Spend your hard earned money on other things with the money you save on this watch.

  • Purchase from AmazonOutdoors

    Nikon Travelite VI 8×25 Binoculars

    There is always a pair of binoculars in Jordon’s day bag.  For years they have been a pair of Nikon’s because you can’t beat the quality of the optics for the cost and portability. Nikon Travelite 8x25 Binoculars

    A rubber armored carbon fiber body offers lightweight and impact-resistant performance, and the contoured body with textured gripping surfaces provide slip-resistant handling, making the Travelite VI well-suited for sightseeing on vacation and glassing the ball field from the stands.  Reviewers in multiple publications have said that these are the perfect balance between power and weight with no compromises either way.

  • Purchase from Amazon  (another good option is the Pentax 8×21 binoculars which also offer good quality at a lower price)Gerber Ripstop I Knife

    Gerber Ripstop I Knife

    Jordon started to carry this in his pocket because he wanted something small and functional for work.  This fit the bill perfectly.   He has one for every day use and then he keeps packed and ready to go in his day bag.  He likes this knife because it is big enough to do what he needs it to do most days but small enough to fold up and fit comfortably in his front pocket.  It’s also small enough that when he pulls it out at work, no one goes, “HE’S GOT A KNIFE!”.  Instead they often go, “cool” and want to take a look at it.

    Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-tool

    Get back to basics — the very cool basics — with Leatherman’s Skeletool CX.  It keeps weight and volume to a minimum while still having the tools he will need.

    Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-tool

    Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System

    Stanley Mountain Coffee System

    The thing that stops so many people from camping…the perception that they have to “suffer” out there and can’t enjoy the comforts of home. Instead, Stanley said, “Oh no, nobody goes without good coffee while camping…not on our watch!”

    The entire system might look a little bit like overkill, but when you keep in mind the fact that the components are all useful for other purposes this system does far more than just make coffee.

    First of all, they thought of everything with this kit. The bottom (outside) layer is the pot to heat your water, complete with latching pre-installed handle. Just give the small button a squeeze to lift it up or put it down. This layer is obviously a great pot for heating up your meals too, especially if you pre-pouched it and just need to reheat with a hot water bath. The next layer is the French press plunger, and yes, if you pour really, really carefully, you can strain other foods with it (like pasta) when you’re not making coffee. The next nested layer is the famous Stanley vacuum bottle, so basically you use your kit to make a whole pot of coffee and then pour it into the bottle to keep it hot. The lid that closes the bottle actually has a small twist off lid the store your coffee grounds, and the exterior lid twists apart to form two cups.

    Gourmet coffee.  In the woods.  He’ll love it.

  • Purchase at AmazonEagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

    Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

    Light and compact enough for backpacking, yet robust enough for backyard luxury, the popular ENO DoubleNest Hammock sets up in seconds and has plenty of room for 2.

  • Purchase at AmazonJA Henckels International 15 Piece Knife Set with Knife Block

    JA Henckels International 15 Piece Knife Set with Knife Block

    Set includes a 3 inch paring knife, a 5 inch santoku knife, a 7 inch santoku knife, an 8 inch chef’s knife, an 8 inch bread knife, six 4.5 inch steak knives, a 5 inch serrated utility knife, a sharpening steel, shears, and a hardwood block.  This is the perfect gift for someone who likes to cook and doesn’t have decent knives.  Even though they are the affordable line of knives from J.A. Henckels, they are still excellent knives and will be a significant upgrade over his current set. Taken care of, they will last a lifetime.

  • Purchase at AmazonKenneth Cole Reaction Shaving Kit

    Kenneth Cole Shaving Kit

    Don’t just get him a Dopp Kitt, inside it place some essential shaving products that he will love.

  • Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle TechnologyGillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle Technology
  • Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood: This will last for decades and he’ll think of you every time he uses it.Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood
  • Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil: He may not admit how good this feels on his skin but he will appreciate it.
  • Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush
  • Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Eau de Toilette Spray: For when he goes out and wants to smell nice but still let the world know he is still tough enough to conquer it. Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Eau de Toilette SprayMoleskine Classic Notebook

Moleskine Classic Notebook

Every man needs to keep a journal and this basic, yet classic Large Plain notebook is one that he will want to keep this thoughts and projects in. This reliable travel companion, perfect for sketches, thoughts and passing notes, has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners, acid free paper, a bookmark, an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.

Sphero BB-8 Droid

Sphero BB-8 app enabled droid

This gift hits two big things in your guys life

  • It from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie which if he is like most guys, is dying to see.
  • It’s a programmable robot which he wanted since Tomy released the Omnibot.

This is THE toy of the holiday season and is one that the entire family will get a kick out of.  If the guy you are shopping for still enjoys a remote controlled car, a drone, or just having fun, make sure you check out this gift and pick up one early, they won’t be around as we get towards Christmas.

  • Authentic Movement: Guide your BB-8 with a smartphone or tablet
  • Listens & Responds: BB-8 recognizes and reacts to your voice
  • Holographic Messaging: Record and view virtual holographic videos with BB-8
  • Autonomous Behavior: BB-8 has a mind of its own – explore the Star Wars galaxy together
  • Adaptive Personality: Your BB-8’s unique attitude and actions evolve as you interact


Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 | Corel Paint Shop Pro X8

Adobe Photoshop Elements 14Corel Paint Shop Pro X8

If he is a creative type and a photographer, get him some software that will fuel that creativity.  While the Adobe Creative Cloud is excellent, you have to pay for it monthly.  As an alternative Adobe has Photoshop Element and Corel has Paint Shop Pro 18.  Both will help him (and you) create your best photographs ever whether you are using a Nikon D810 or a iPhone 4.

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

Blue Microphone Yet USB microphone

If he is a podcaster or musician, check out the Blue Microphone Yet USB microphone.  It allows you to record just yourself, a conversation with two people or an entire room of people.  Great sound, solid design, and a lot of fun as he takes his first steps towards being an internet sensation.

Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone


Another option for the aspiring radio star is this Shure microphone for any iOS device with a Lightning connector.  Compact enough to fit in a pocket and be with you anywhere at anytime.

  • Apple MFi certified compatible with all iOS devices equipped with a Lightning connector
  • Matched cardioid and bi-directional 1 cm cartridges for best-in-class audio
  • Mid-side architecture for a phase-perfect, clear stereo image
  • 5 DSP preset modes (Speech, Singing, Flat, Acoustic Instrument, Loud)
  • Automatically adjusts EQ, compression and limiting for optimal results
  • Innovative hinge/rotation design supports multiple recording angles, including video applications
  • Free ShurePlus MOTIV recording app featuring 24-bit/48 khz .wav (uncompressed) recording,control over DSP mode selection, microphone gain, stereo width, raw mid-side adjustments, wind reduction, capsule selection, Left-Right Swap, 5-band EQ and compression/limiting
  • All-metal construction engineered to withstand the most demanding recording conditions



The Jordon Cooper Christmas Gift GuidesHoliday Gift Guides

New headphones (and The Wirecutter)

When Mark lost his beloved Skullcandy headphones a few years ago, I asked for some opinions on what to get him on Twitter.  Hilary (she’s the bot behind the @theotherhilary) tweeted that I should check out the reviews on The Wire Cutter.  They tested hundreds of pairs of in-ear headphones and recommended a pair of Panasonic RP-HJE123 in ear headphones for having the second best sound under $50.  They cost $15 since he doesn’t need the ones with a hands free mic on them.  I was happy, he was less than happy since I think he wanted some Dre Beats but you can’t win them all.

This week, Marley chewed up my mediocre Monster headphones and then ate some other ones that I liked so it was back to the Wire Cutter.  They again recommended the Panasonic RP-HJE123 In-Ear Headphones.  I found the cheaper microphoneless version of the headphones at Winners for $10 and got a white pair.

The best headphones under $100 gave the House of Marley Smile headphones a good review and I saw those at Best Buy for only $25.  I like the looks of them and I am quite happy with my House of Marley Chant.  Plus if my dog Marley chews them up, the wood will be good for her.

I’ll let them burn in and then decide on a favorite but it is really hard to dislike either one of these choices.

One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten has been to check out The Wirecutter for audio reviews.  I have saved a lot of money by not making bad purchases and have learned a lot on what to look for in audio.    Oh yeah, those Dre Beats you want, they cost $14 to make and sound like crap.

Focus on Saskatchewan

Ford Focus on Saskatoon

Day 2 with the 2015 Ford Focus saw us say goodbye to Moose Jaw and head south towards Ogema, Saskatchewan.  First we had to get a photo with Mac the Moose.

2015 Ford Focus and Mac the Moose in Moose JawMac the Moose in Moose Jaw

Of course in the most Saskatchewan of things, the photo was photobombed by a CT-114 Tutor, otherwise known as the plane flown by the Snowbirds.

As we made our way south, we stopped in Rouleau, the home of Corner Gas and also known as Dog River.

The set of Corner Gas is a lot smaller than you would think.  It’s also falling apart.  There were reports that someone was going to turn it into a gift shop or a museum but nothing has been done with it.

We saw the home of the Dog River Howler, the Dog River Hotel, Oscar and Emma Leroy’s house and of course the surveillance bush.

The Dog River Howler in Rouleau, SaskatchewanThe Dog River Hotel in Rouleau, SaskatchewanDog River The set of Corner Gas in Dog River, SaskatchewanThe set of Corner Gas in Dog River, Saskatchewan

Then it was to Ogema where we grabbed lunch at the Rolling Hills Restaurant, checked out the old Fire Hall and the British American Gas Station.  By the time we did that, it was off to the Southern Prairie Railway, a tourist railway that took us from Ogema to what is left of Horizon, Saskatchewan. 14 miles away.

Southern Praire Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanIMGP1415Southern Praire Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Praire Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Praire Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Praire Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Praire Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Praire Railway in Ogema, Saskatchewan

This is what is left of Horizon, Saskatchewan.

Federal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, SaskatchewanFederal Grain Elevator in Horizon, Saskatchewan

A quick summary of what we learned on the trip

  • Steam locomotives were slow.  Only about 15 miles per hour.  No wonder thieves targeted trains.  They were loud, slow moving, and predictable.
  • Small Saskatchewan towns were placed 7 miles apart because that is how far a farmer could deliver grain in a day back then.  Some say it was to refuel and water the steam engines but nope, it’s about grain delivery.
  • Driving south of Moose Jaw on Highway 6 was the most isolated I have ever felt.  No houses for as far as the eye can see.  Considering at one time every section would have had a home on it, it’s incredible to think I was seeing hundreds of sections from on our drive with almost no signs of life.
  • You can still get parts for Pullman cars.
  • Each top window in the Pullman car we road in was a different size.
  • Never underestimate the spirit of rural Saskatchewan to take on impossible projects.
  • Horizon, Saskatchewan went from a vibrant rural community to only having two buildings left because of property taxes.  The government offered them a hospital but the town turned it down because they were afraid property taxes would rise in town.  This lead to the hospital going to Bengough (which is booming by the way) and eventually Highway 13 being moved.  This killed the town and today there is only a decommissioned Federal Grain elevator there.
  • I was shocked at how well built grain elevators are.  They were built out of 2x4s or 2x6s laying flat and nailed together with one foot spikes holding them together.  Each board would have 50 to 60 spikes driven into it making them built to last.
  • Locomotive collectors are a unique breed who care more about finding a good home for their locomotives then selling them.  The on that Southern Prairie Railway bought had to keep the livery colors or the original owner.  Coincidently the livery colors matched the owners of the short line railroad that own the tracks.

After we were done, it was back into the Ford Focus and then home.  It was shorter to come home via Regina so we did that.   This is what I learned about the Ford Focus

  • All of the highways we went on were in good condition but some were smoother than others.  The Focus gave a nice ride on all of them.
  • As I wrote yesterday, the car is quiet on the highway.
  • I managed to figure out who was at fault over the Google Maps weirdness, I am pretty sure the bug is with Google Maps.
  • Drink holders.  It has 8 of them.  This is great for travelling with kids.  The boys had their Nalgene water bottles with them as did Wendy and I.  Yet if you grab a coffee or a drink with a meal, you still need another one.  The Ford Focus has them.  It’s almost as if Ford engineers travel with children.
  • According to Mark and Oliver, the stereo sounds great in the back seat.  Ford’s stereo does compensate for road noise and can focus on the driver or the entire car.  It was a big hit.
  • I looked everywhere for it.  The stereo offers me an option to plug my iPod into a line in port but I couldn’t find one.  I may have missed it but I think it is a mistake in the stereo menus.
  • Handling is fine.  I wasn’t rally racing but around Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, and then Ogema, the car handled wonderfully.

Would I buy one?  Well Wendy and I talked at length about getting one (probably the hatchback) when we got back to Saskatoon.  That should tell you our feelings about the car.  It’s a car that is really worth buying.

Ford Focus Road Trip: Moose Jaw and Claybank Brick Plant

Ford Focus on Saskatchewan Road TripThis morning, Wendy, Mark, Oliver and I piled into the 2015 Ford Focus.  We tossed my L.L. Bean canvas duffle bag, go bags, and some camera gear in the back and headed south towards Moose Jaw.  The drive was pretty normal until we came to Chamberlain.

For those of you not from Saskatchewan, let me explain Chamberlain to you.  The highway from Prince Albert to Saskatoon is four lanes.  The highway from Saskatoon to Regina is four lanes, except when you go through Chamberlain and then it goes down to two lanes for about three kilometers.  There is absolutely no reason it has to do this but it does and it drops to 60/kph as it goes through town.

Today the speed was 0 kph.  It was at an absolute standstill.  My first thought was that there was an accident on the highway but no, there was a really long convey of about 20 Jays Moving trucks all pulling out of the roadside turnout and they were blocking traffic.  First of all I have no idea why they were blocking traffic and secondly, why was there a need for 20 Jay’s Moving semis to be travelling together in a convey?  It was weird.

We turned east at that point until we got to Keeler, Saskatchewan.  Keeler is home of the Cooper’s and is a town of about 15 people.  My grandparents house (and the post office) had been torn down but the bar I used to hang out when I was six was still there.

The Keeler Hotel in Keeler, Saskatchewan

I am also pretty sure that this was the garage that my grandfather used to run.  It has been moved but it’s still there.    The ball diamonds I used to catch gophers in are still there.  My grandpa’s dog Tip used to hide in the long grass beyond the outfield until a ball came near.  My memories were of a lot of ground rule doubles as Tip took off with the ball.

The Keeler Garage in Keeler, Saskatchewan

From there we drove to Moose Jaw and checked into the Temple Gardens Hotel and Mineral Spa.  Our room is small, not that well maintained and some disturbing looking stains on the carpeting.  We didn’t stay long because we wanted to check out the Claybank Brink Plant.

The Claybank Brick Plant is a National Historic Site about 30 minutes out of Moose Jaw.  I don’t know how to describe it.  The organizing committee says they are $2 million into a $6 million project and I kind of think the $6 million is low.  It’s really dilapidated yet really awesome at the same time.  I totally you recommend you go. 

The website mentioned that Google Maps has the wrong location and it does.  If you can get to Claybank, you can see the plant but getting to Claybank was hard enough with Google Maps.

Google Maps says it’s turn by turn directions are in beta but when my iPhone is plugged into the car and connected to Sync via Bluetooth, it muted the turn by turn directions entirely which is kind of annoying when you are driving.  To make a long story short, I missed my turn and had to go back… where I missed the turn again…  There was good signage and I am old school, I always have a map but I was thinking the bug has to be with the iPhone and Google Maps working together and then being connected to the Ford via Bluetooth.  Hopefully Google fixes it.

When we got to Claybank, I couldn’t help but notice this church steeple off in a distance.

St. Joesph's Parish in Claybank, Saskatchewan

No signs outside but a quick Google search told me it was St. Joesph’s Catholic Church.  It’s obviously been made by bricks from the plant.

So as I am taking this photo, my Google Maps finally starts to talking to and I think was telling me to go in two different directions at once.  Of course it is supposed to learn from correct routes but since we detoured into Claybank to take this photo, I didn’t exactly really help the situation.  Sorry about that.

We finally drove into the plant.  Part of it goes through a farm yard.  I wasn’t totally sure if I was at the right place but I realized, “It’s Canada, if I took the wrong turn, three farmers will politely correct my and then offer to have us over for lunch.”

So the plant is a step back into time.  They say it is essentially unchanged from the way it was in 1914 to 1937 and I believe them.

There are tours that you can take earlier in the summer.  Today we were given a map and sent on our way.  We explored all of it in about an hour and it was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Here is the Focus with the plant in the background.  It’s a little dusty (both the plant and the car).

2015 Ford Focus at the Claybank Brink Plant

This is the restored bunkhouse.  It is now a gift shop, coffee shop, and where you pay to start the tours.  It was one of the first things to be restored.

The old bunkhouse at Claybank Brick PlantThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

This is where the magic started.  The clay was brought here and stored.  It’s the start of the assembly line.The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

While today was hot even for the tour, I can’t imagine what it would be like to work in here.

The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

This is one of the furnaces.The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

These furnaces were all hand laid.  Inside there was no mortar because the bricks would expand so much during heating and contract during cooling.  They would put 70,000 bricks in there and heat them for a week.  Then it would take about another week to cool.  Then a week to unload them.The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe 2015 Ford Focus at the Claybank Brink Plant National Historic Site

They still are aggressively fundraising.  While our entry ticket helps out, I also plan to make a donation.  It’s a great site and I hope they are successful.

We then headed back to Moose Jaw and parked the car for the night.  We made sure we left it a nice view overlooking downtown Moose Jaw.


Then we took the boys to the mineral spa. The pool is quite nice and we spent some time up there on the roof top spa today.  Supposedly the waters have the same minerals as the one in Bath, England does.   That being said, I have read that about almost every mineral spa that I have ever looked up online.

For dinner, the plan was to go to Smoke’s Poutinerie but it looks like they were shut down last night.  So that didn’t work out as we had planned.

Instead Wendy and the boys went to Deja Vu, a place that specializes in chicken and milkshakes.  If it sounds familiar, it has been on The Prairie Diner and You Gotta Eat Here! before.  We walk in and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are losing 14-7 when Smith throws a pick that makes it 21-7 for the Blue Bombers.  The place is full of people wearing Rider gear and no a single person reacts.   Not even a single grimace.  We are still fans but we are at the same where we aren’t going to let what happens on the field affect us.  I think this is what Chicago Cubs fans go through.

My thoughts on the 2015 Ford Focus.  They are mostly positive.

  • I love Ford’s 6 speed transmission.  I can’t say enough positive things about it.  It makes the car a joy to drive.
  • It is more than big enough for us for a weekend road trip.  The sedan has more space then the hatchback but even the hatchback would be adequate.
  • There are a lot of drink holders which is nice as you start with a travel mug and then stop for a bottled water or a soda later in the day. .
  • The car is quiet on the highway.  You hear very little road noise.
  • All of the Ford vehicles that I have reviewed have all had the Sony stereo upgrades.  After tweaking the standard Ford stereo for my tastes, the factory Ford stereo is excellent.  The one thing that is frustrating with it is that the user interface is brutal.  For some tasks you have to use the upper buttons while other similar tasks you need the lower ones.  It’s not a deal breaker and you definitely get used to it but it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t need to be annoying.  
  • From the first time I reviewed a Ford car to this time, Sync continues to be tweaked an improved every year.  It’s not a big thing but it is nice to see that Ford’s commitment to quality goes to everything.  The nerd in me would love to see the upgrades in software and processing power that has made this possible.
  • I’d seriously think about buying this car.  It’s not perfect but I like it a lot.  So do a lot of you since it is the best selling car of all time (passing the Toyota Corolla).   The only non-factory upgrades I would get would be the bars on the roof so one could add a rooftop storage container.

Tomorrow we continue south to Ogema where the boys and Wendy will take the Southern Prairie Railway for a ride and then it is back home.  You’ll see more photos and some final thoughts on the Ford Focus tomorrow. 

An experienced US fighter pilot on the F-35

If you had to fly any fighter into an air combat arena today, including an operational F-35A as an option, what would it be?

The F-22. It’s a better jet than the F-35. It can carry at least as much, further and faster. If it was up to me I’d cancel the F-35 and start building more Raptors. A common counter to that is the cost to restart the F-22 assembly line. How much does one pig cost? Another is that the F-35 program is too far along. Yep, let’s just keep paying for a poorly-managed, overly expensive fighter that has three versions that make any one version less than it could be. Can you say F-111? That the F-35’s avionics are better than the F-22’s; how about a Raptor upgrade? I’d also build more advanced versions of the F-15 and F-16.

OK, I’ve spent enough time on my soapbox.

And what does the Canadian government want to purchase?  The poorly managed, overly expensive fighter that can’t fight, can’t run, and can’t hide.

Of course this isn’t the Canadian government’s fault.  It is solely the U.S. governments.

The F-22 was supposed to be the air superiority fighter.  That is what it was designed to do.  It would do that job well except the U.S. government didn’t forsee the USSR or China (or anyone else) becoming a threat and they killed the program because it was too expensive.  They then decided to get a lot of F-35s which would do attack runs and stuff like that.

Then Russia and China have both developed better and better fighters which will be as good as the F-22.  And they are making more than 150 of them.   This could mean that a lot of F-35 pilots are going to be killed in a potential conflict, including Canadian ones.

Canada is only buying 65 or so F-35s which mean that our pilots won’t get the training hours in needed to make them elite dog fighters in a plan that one pilot who has flown it said, “could be clubbed by baby seals”.  So not only is Canada buying a “pig” for a fighter (that isn’t a fighter), it is going to have pilots that won’t be as trained as they need to be.

In a world of increasing tensions, this is a recipe for disaster.

Drones Impede Helicopters Fighting Fires

You read the headline right

Of all the elements they must battle in a wildfire, firefighters face a new foe: drones operated by enthusiasts who presumably take close-up video of the disaster.

Five such "unmanned aircraft systems" prevented California firefighters from dispatching helicopters with water buckets for up to 20 minutes over a wildfire that roared Friday onto a Los Angeles area freeway that leads to Las Vegas.

Helicopters couldn’t drop water because five drones hovered over the blaze, creating hazards in smoky winds for a deadly midair disaster, officials said.

The North Fire torched 20 vehicles on Interstate 15 and incited panic among motorists who fled on foot on the freeway Friday. The wildfire continued to burn uncontrollably Saturday, scorching 3,500 acres with only 5% containment in San Bernardino County, officials said.

Drones hovering over wildfires is a new trend in California, and on Saturday, fire officials condemned the operators of "hobby drones," as officials labeled them. It was unclear Saturday whether authorities would launch an investigation into the five drones.

"Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities to report, but the 15 to 20 minutes that those helicopters were grounded meant that 15 to 20 minutes were lost that could have led to another water drop cycle, and that would have created a much safer environment and we would not have seen as many citizens running for their lives," said spokesman Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

My Day Bag

Outside Magazine had their list of essentials that should be in everyone’s day bag.  You know the bag you have if you are off for a day trip and you don’t know where or the day will end.

Here is mine.

15 litre backpack. 

Swiss Gear Backpack

You know it’s the same size of bag that you use for carrying your laptop or your bags to school.  It’s big enough to take everything with you but small enough to casually carry over your shoulder or toss in the back of a car.  Wendy, Mark and I all have something similar.  They are always ready and packed for use at a moments notice.  You probably already have one laying around.

We don’t stress over the bag.   The best place to get them is Wal-Mart or Bentley when they are on sale.  It doesn’t need to be amazing, it just needs to hold your stuff and be ready when you are.

Ricoh WG-30 camera

Ricoh WG-30W Adventure Camera

16 megapixels, waterproof, crush proof, HD video and made for adventures.  Make sure you toss a 32 GB card in it and have a backup battery.  I have a silicon case to protect mine and a Pentax camera case to keep the extra batteries.  It’s not the best camera on the market but it is a perfect camera to always have on you on every adventure.

Gerber Ripstop I Knife:

Gerber Ripstop I Knife

I always travel with a multi-tool so this is just for times when I need a small blade (I hate using the blade on a multi-tool).  It’s only 3 ounces which is light enough to toss in and forget about it until you really need it.  Plus, you are going on a day trip, not doing a combat tour. Leave the fixed blade, serrated edge, hardened metal knife at home with your camping gear.

Having crossed into the U.S. border many times with a knife in my bag or vehicle, it is a lot easier to say to a border official, “I have a small jack knife in my bag” than a hunting one.  It is a lot less questions about who or what you plan to hunt.


19-skeletool-cx07I own some great multi-tools but my favourite one is a generic one that I got for $10 at Wal-Mart.  It has multiple tools, grips that don’t hurt my hands and has lasted several adventures and crisis around the home.  You can pay more than $20 but at the end of the day, mine has lasted me really well and there are all sorts of ones to choose from.  If you are determined to get a high end multi-tool, you can do no better then the Leatherman CX Skeletool.  At a mere 5 ounces, it is the lightest multi-tool on the market.  One word of warning, it’s blade comes out of the packaging really, really sharp.   Rub your finger across it and you are bleeding all over your new multi-tool.

Moleskine Notebook and Pen

What do you do if you come across a great idea in the middle of a road trip?  Share it with your friends knowing that haters going hate.  Or do you write it down like Henry David Thoreau would do?  You know the answer.  Grab yourself a decent notebook and a Parker Urban Roller Ball pen.

Extra socks

Something cotton and goes with both shorts or khakis.   Get the Mens Merino Wool Hiking Crew Socks.  If your socks or feet get wet from water or sweat, it makes for an uncomfortable day.  Instead pack a pair of these amazing socks in your pack and change when you need to.  They are perfect for getting you through your day and good looking enough to get you through the evening.   Of course you probably have a pair of socks you have already you can use.


Van Heusen Men’s Short Sleeve Oxford Dress Shirt

Van Heusen Men's Short Sleeve Oxford Dress Shirt

This is something to wear once your day of adventure is done.  Whether you are going out for a nice dinner, meeting up with some friends or just want to feel good on the trip home, this is the shirt you toss on.  It’s wrinkle resistant, comfortable, and has a timeless and classy look to it.

BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard with $250 on it

BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard

Your bank may or may not have a similar option but for $10 a year, you can get a BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard.  It works just like a regular MasterCard but it is prepaid.  You can add money to it from an ATM or if you are a BMO member, it is linked to your account.  If you have an emergency, you can pay for a motel room, a tow, or grab a meal no matter how bad it gets.

Since it is prepaid, there is no interest or debt to pay back later.

So what is in your day bag?

Mark is now 15

Happy Birthday Mark!

He turned 15 today.  Despite his best efforts, he has made it 15 times around the sun without being tossed from the planet.

We celebrated in part on the weekend.  On Friday Wendy and I took him shopping and got him to pick out some new sunglasses.  He totally ignored the incredible looking sunglasses I picked out for him and instead picked some sunglasses that look like he is from The Matrix.  Whoa.

On Sunday morning we got up early and I gave him a MSR Pocket Rocket stove, fuel canister, and base.  For $8 the base makes the entire system a lot more secure.  Mark is pretty responsible but he is a teenager and therefore his coordination comes and goes. 

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

Wendy gave him a one person mess kit to cook with while hiking.  Oliver’s response was, “Only one person?  What’s Mark going to eat?”  He’s always looking out for his older brother.

We then took off to Prince Albert National Park and went hiking for the day.  We hiked the Waskesiu River, the Mud Flat Trail (where we got close and personal with some black bears), and hiked both sides of the Narrows.  Mark cooked us up some lunch with his new gear.  After a day of hiking and exploring, we went to The Angry Taco for dinner and called it a day.

Tuesday morning, we gave him the rest of his gifts.  Oliver gave him a frisbee disc golf set.

We all got him a Altec Lansing XL Soundblade Bluetooth Speaker which he has wanted really badly.  He was pretty happy to get one.

Altec Lansing XL Soundblade

Today after school him and I are heading out for a quick game of golf and then coming home to have some steak that has been marinating for several days.  It is starting out as a nice day.

Norway will shut off FM radio in 2017

Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio.

As notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

Frequency modulation, or FM, radio was patented in 1933 and has been recording and sharing the human story for nearly a century. But its days are clearly waning. According to a 2012 Pew Study, while over 90% of Americans still listen to AM/FM radio at least weekly, more people are choosing to forgo analog radio for Internet-only services each year. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before many countries follow Norway’s example, although I’m not so sure I’m ready to part with my 80’s-era Grundig. Thing still sounds like a dream.

Visions Electronics

Mark lost his cell phone on the weekend.  He is pretty careful with it but he was out with Wendy running some errands and it went missing.  He was devastated.  I wasn’t convinced the dog didn’t eat it and hid it somewhere but whatever the case, he needs a new phone.

He is with Virgin Mobile and we are pretty happy with it.  I have always bought his phone outright and then we only pay $25/prepaid for texting and minutes.  That was my plan for this time.

I looked at The Source and Best Buy and was unimpressed with what they had for $100 – $150.  Really unimpressed.  We then went to Visions and they came out with a Motorola Moto G for $150.  I went to buy that but then Visions only charged me $98 for the phone which made it an even better deal.  They did that a couple of years ago as well.  I appreciated it then and I appreciated it now.

As they were ringing me in, the salesman told me about a special low rate they can get me signed up for.  I was like, “Go on…”.  I am only paying $25 now but he had a $19/month rate that was still month to month.  It was actually $18 a month but I pay $1 a month to lock out data.   It’s only $6/month cheaper but that’s $72 for the year.   It all ads up I guess.

The only hitch was as he was signing us up, we had to phone in to get the internet lock put on it.  No problem or so I thought.

Wendy heads home and phones Virgin while I set up Mark’s phone.  It takes her almost an hour to get the data lock put on it.  The women on the other end wouldn’t let Wendy speak.  She first tried to activate the phone (it had been activated at Visions), then she went on this other lecture to Wendy for like  20 minutes about something totally different.  Then it was something else.  It was hilarious.  Finally we got the data lock put on his phone and we were good.

If you are looking for a Bell or Virgin cell phone in Saskatoon, go to Visions.  I have shopped around and for whatever reason, they are the best at cellular sales, even on prepaid phones.