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 & Holiday Gift Guide for the Explorer and Adventurer | 2015 Edition

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.

Left and Right Handed Slingpacks from MEC

MEC Sling Bags

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.

Manfrotto Off Road Hiker Backpack, 30L

Manfrotto Off Road Hiker Backpack, 30L

The Manfrotto Off road Hiker 30L has been specifically designed for hiking and photography with quick side- access to your camera. It holds a Pro DSLR, 70-200mm lens and an additional lens. The backpack converts into a total hiking backpack by unzipping the internal divider and removing the camera bag.  Unlike most other camera hiking bags, this one comes with an internal frame which makes it easier to carry more gear over longer distances so you an get the perfect shot.

Pelican 1050 waterproof case

Pelican 1050 waterproof case

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.

Vibram FiveFingers Komodo Sport Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Komodo Sport Shoes

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.

Leatherman Skeletool CX

Leatherman Skeletool CX

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.

Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera with Live View Remote

Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera with Live View Remote

Last year’s top of the line action camera becomes this winters entry level on.  What this means is that if you are still okay with 1080p video, you can get a great camera at a fantastic price.  As with last year, If you are a cyclist, this is the camera you want.

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.

Polaroid Cube+ 1440p Mini Lifestyle Action Camera with Wi-Fi & Image Stabilization

,Polaroid Cube Action Camera

Standing at just 35mm, the Polaroid CUBE+ is here to prove that the best things do indeed come in small packages. This tiny action camera supports microSD cards up to 128 GB, and is ready to capture your most exciting moments in full HD video (1440p at 30FPS, 1080p at 30 or 60 FPS, 720p at 30, 60 or 120FPS) or 8-megapixel images. If you’re living a life that’s fit for film, make the CUBE+ your constant companion. It is weatherproof, splashproof and shockproof, and more than capable of handling anything you throw at it. But not only does it look after itself, it looks after you: With a 124° wide-angle lens, it sees the big picture and bears witness to your most outrageous shtick. And with a battery life of up to 107 minutes recording time (1080p at 30 FPS with Wi-Fi turned off), anytime is go time.

While it has a magnet mounted in the bottom of the camera so it can be attached to any surface, it also has a complete line of mounts so you can attach it anywhere.

Assorted mounts for the Polaroid Cube Action Camera

It is a fun lightweight camera that is small enough to go anywhere with you and high quality enough to capture it all.

Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System
The Jetboil Flash cooking system utilizes the same efficient design as the now classic Personal Cooking System (PCS) but adds the additional convenience feature of an external temperature indicator. Designed to capture and focus heat more efficiently than traditional cooking systems, the Flash brings two cups of water to a boil in only two minutes. The lining also houses a color change window that alerts you to when the contents are hot. A sip-through lid further helps insulate the contents of the cooking cup and prohibits spills. The protective plastic bottom of the cup can be removed for use as a small bowl or measuring device.  It’s ideal for the person who loves to get away from it all on a long hike or a couple of days camping by themselves.

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

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.

We bought one of these for Mark for his birthday and he has loved it.  It it is easy to adjust while cooking and when on high was able to boil two cups of water in just a few minutes.  For those of you who ever watch YouTube phenom Martyupnorth, he has used his to cook smokies with on trails where there are no open fires.

Double Nest Hammock

Double Nest Hammock

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.

Kona French Press Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker, Black 34oz Teapot

Kona French Press Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker, Black 34oz Teapot

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 eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

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.

The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern

The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern

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 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.

Filzer UFO Light

Filzer UFO Light

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.

If I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.

Christmas-Gift-Guide[5]Holiday Gift Guides

Carbon Capture Conundrum

The Political Panel’s Murray Mandryk and Stefani Langenegger discuss the controversy over the province’s $1.4B carbon dioxide capture project with Morning Edition host Sheila Coles.  You need to watch it.

This reminds me a lot of some of the Devine mega projects that never worked as promised which this Saskatchewan Party seems to still be in love with.  This is the first one they made happen and it’s really not working nearly as well as they promised.  As Murray Mandryk said, maybe Wall should not has been as smug as he has been.

Also as Mandryk says, maybe you can’t effectively capture coal in western Canada.  As Langenegger points out, SaskPower rate payers are actually subsidizing Alberta oil companies to get oil out of the ground.  This project is a big mess.

If you want to read more, check out James Fallows in The Atlantic on clean coal from 2010.

The Jordon Cooper Podcast

The Jordon Cooper Podcast

A very long time ago I used to host a podcast here.  Then life happened and I ran out of time to do it.   Lately I have been realizing that while I get to say a lot of things in my column at The StarPhoenix, I don’t get to get into everything I wanted to talk about.  800 words is 800 words and from time to time I want to use more.

So from now on, every Sunday night, I am going to record and upload a podcast about my column the next day.   It’s going to let me talk about some of things that went into my column and some other things that may have come across my desk since I filed.    It will be about five minutes and hopefully provide some context and more details to what I was thinking about that week.

Look for it to go live sometime before dawn on Monday.

The first couple of episodes will show up here but once iTunes approves the podcast, they will appear there as well.  You can follow the podcast via RSS at

The best photography from the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays season

I never know if this falls under the category of “too soon” but the Toronto Star just published some of their favourite photos from The Star’s sports photographer, Steve Russell.  Click on the link or the photo to see them all.

Ben Revere makes a catch at the fence in front of the Royals bullpen on Salvador Perez. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals play game six of the MLB American League Championship Series  at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.  October 23, 2015.

All of his photos are exceptional but I just love the look on the Kansas City Royals bullpen staff on this catch.


Since Mark was attacked on Wednesday, some of you have shared some incredible stories of your own.  I have read them all, shared many with Mark, and will reply to most of them next week.    I am stunned at the amount of violent attacks that people have suffered, most of them random over the years but as many of you have said, no one seemed to care unless you know someone.  A friend of mind reminded me of the murder of Scott Asher who I went to school with.  Another one reminded me of a friend who still suffers brain injuries.  Random attacks with lasting consequences.

This isn’t the first time something random happened to Mark.  He was sitting with some friends at A.H. Browne Park one early evening and a guy threw a container of urine at the group.  Another day just a block away, a prostitute who was working the street at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon attacked him and Ollie demanding money.  Luckily they were able to run away.  Life in Mayfair.

I have been asked how Mark is recovering.   His jaw still hurts but it is healing.  His headaches are gone and he seems to be responding better.  He will walk to and from school tomorrow.  As he said today, he has to do it sometime and it may as well be on Monday.  The worst thing happened today when a friend’s mother offered to bring him cookies to make him feel better.  He can’t chew them.  Rather than risk more injury, Oliver and the dog have offered to eat them.

He has been out of the house walking the dog.  Tonight was his first time being out at night since the attack.  When I asked him if there was any problems he said, “other than walking the dog, no.” 

Most of the emails and people stopping by have been really helpful and kind.  Some of them were really weird and some are just dangerous.

  • A few people emailed me and suggested that Mark must be involved in drugs or gangs.  It’s like random violence can’t ever happen.  I understand the fear and the need to rationalize it but the need to blame victims isn’t helpful.
  • Some wondered if race was a factor and that got dark quickly.
  • One teacher,  yes a teacher told me that she thinks the only way that teens will be safe from the police is if they join a gang.  I really don’t know what to do with that one.  It Donald Trump crazy on so many levels.  I think she read the joke that Mark said to Darren Hill in which he said, “I don’t blame police unless I find out it was them that hit me with the Emergency Response Vehicle”.  Of course he had just finished reading about the police that ran over the dog three times and claimed they thought it was a coyote.  Anyways, it was bizarre to think that a teacher in Saskatoon thinks that “gangs are the answer”.  I also think I have read comments on The StarPhoenix over the years by that teacher where he/she espouses the same thing.
  • More than one person has asked if I would consider letting Mark carry a knife for his own protection.  Again, that is getting crazy.  Mark has a knife and he carries it in a backpack on hikes.  That it is it.  As I have told him, the only time to use this is for making a fire and if a Grizzly Bear challenges you straight up to a knife fight.  I can’t envision a single instance where any kid pulling a knife in self defense ends well and a lot of cases where it ends tragically. 

So yeah, appreciated the supportive comments, thought I would share some of the weirder ones.  Mark got a kick out of the weird ones too.  He’s going to pass on it, unless he find a gang of knife wielding grizzly bears, then he is in.

I have some more serious thoughts on it in The StarPhoenix tomorrow.

Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for the Women 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 and hopefully surprise her with.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

The alluring Original Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant, crafted in 925 Sterling Silver. This design is set with 1 Heart Shape stone prong set (simulated emerald is shown but there are many other options), 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.

Sterling Silver Infinity Created Blue Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet

Sterling Silver Infinity Created Blue Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet

  • Bracelet featuring oval-cut gemstones interspersed with diamond-accented infinity links
  • All the diamond suppliers for this bracelet confirm that they comply with the Kimberley Process to ensure that their diamonds are conflict free.

An elegant and timeless gift for the special women in your life.

Women’s Grey Titanium Round-Cut Pink Sapphire Ring with Pink Anodized Channel

Women's Grey Titanium Round-Cut Pink Sapphire Ring with Pink Anodized Channel

Simple, but stunning—like her.

Hudson’s Bay Fleece Blanket

Hudson’s Bay Fleece Blanket

Function and style combine with this fleece multi-coloured throw by the HBC Signature collection. It features a grip-tape handled carrying strap, signature colours and the softest fleece nap.  It looks great and will keep your loved ones warm.

Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss

Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss

This is a fun gift.  It is an Air Plant with clear glass hanging terrarium wide with glass bottom. Kit includes pebbles, moss, glass globe and air plant.  The kit is a great addition to any room at any price.

HP Steam 11 Netbook

HP Stream 11.6-Inch Laptop (Intel Celeron, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB SSD, Violet Purple)

Who says laptops have to be boring looking.  This is the HP Steam 11, a 11.6 inch laptop running Windows 10 for under $200.  It features:

  • Intel Celeron N3050 1.6 GHz Processor
  • 2 GB SDRAM
  • 32 GB Solid-State Drive
  • 11.6-Inch Screen
  • Windows 10

Since it has a SSD and low energy processor, it is a completely quiet design with no noisy fans going off every time the computer starts to work hard.

While the HP Steam 11 has gotten positive reviews, with only 32gb of hard drive space, you may want to add an external hard drive to the mix.  You can grab a 2 terabyte WD My Passport Ultra hard drive for well under $100 which will give her a lot of space for work, music, videos, and photos in a hard drive that can fit into her pocket.

WD My Passport Ultra Hard Drive

3-Piece Cheese Knife Set

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.

Jean Dubost Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II mirrorless digital camera

I really want to recommend this camera.  I bought one for Wendy as soon as it came out.  Before it arrived in Saskatoon, there was a recall notice which has slowed up shipment of the camera while Olympus fixes old stock.   There are the highlights of the new system.

Sporting a classic design and sleek form factor, the silver OM-D E-M10 Mark II from Olympus is a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds digital camera featuring refined stills and movie recording capabilities to suit working in a variety of day-to-day environments. A high-resolution 16.1MP 4/3 Live MOS sensor pairs with the TruePic VII image processor to facilitate up to 8.5 fps shooting and full HD 1080p/60 movie recording, with a top sensitivity of ISO 25600. In-camera 5-axis image stabilization compensates for up to 4 stops of camera shake to benefit working in difficult lighting conditions and a FAST AF system employs 81 contrast-detection areas for quick, accurate performance with dedicated subject tracking modes. The retro-themed body incorporates a range of assignable function buttons and dials, as well as a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and 3.0″ 1.04m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD for clear image monitoring and playback. Besides the handsome appeal of the E-M10 Mark II’s design, its main assets lie in its versatility of shooting functions and performance to benefit photographers and videographers alike.

Benefited by the range of imaging capabilities, the E-M10 Mark II also incorporates a variety of shooting modes to suit working in various situations. A Silent Mode utilizes an electronic shutter for perfectly quiet picture-taking, with shutter speeds up to 1/16,000 sec. available. Live Bulb and Live Time modes are well-suited to creative long exposure photography and a dedicated Live Composite mode lets you watch a long exposure gradually build up during the course of the shot. Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to pair the camera with your smartphone or tablet for wireless sharing and remote camera control, and an interval shooting mode can be used to produce in-camera 4K time lapse movies.

The good news is that Olympus has put the existing and still excellent Olympus OM-D E-M10 on sale.  You can still get that and until it ships, I’ll link to it.

Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

Up her coffee game in one of two ways.  If she likes to kick it old school, check out the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker.  Fast and convenient, the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavour with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).  It’s the number one selling coffee press on Amazon for a reason.

BELLA Dots Collection 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

BELLA Dots Collection 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

Get her morning off to the right start with the Dots Programmable 12-Cup Coffee Maker. This fully programmable coffee maker brews coffee when and how she likes it, thanks to its countdown timer and brew-strength settings. If you can’t wait to take that first sip, the pause-and-serve feature lets you pour a cup while the coffee is still brewing. A permanent filter spares you the expense and waste of disposable filters, while the non-stick, stain-resistant warming plate makes cleanup fast and easy.

BELLA Dots Collection 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

Did I mention that it comes in a variety of colours? No? Well they come in a variety of colors.

Timex Women’s “Ironman Traditional” Sport Watch

Timex Women’s "Ironman Traditional" Sport WatchWendy 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’.

Invicta Women’s Collection Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch

Invicta Women's Collection Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch

If you are looking for something more formal, there is this stunning limited-edition watch from Invicta’s II Collection features white diamonds set on a polished stainless steel bezel complete with an opulent mother-of-pearl dial.  She’ll wear it for years.

Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

The R H Forschner by Victorinox Chef’s Knife features an 8-inch blade that is 2-inches wide at the handle. High carbon, stainless steel blade is hand finished at Victorinox in Switzerland by skilled craftsmen. A special tempering process is used to produce an edge that can be re-sharpened over and over again, so the knife can keep its original sharpness throughout the entire life of the blade.  There is a reason why it is the best selling chef’s knife at Amazon.

Humans of New YorkHumans of New York

Based on the blog with more than four million loyal fans, a beautiful, heartfelt, funny, and inspiring collection of photographs and stories capturing the spirit of a city

Now an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, Humans of New York began in the summer of 2010, when photographer Brandon Stanton set out to create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called “Humans of New York,” in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

Omnia Bvlgari 2.2 oz. Eau De Perfume Spray For Women

This is the newest, light, modern Oriental scent fragrance for women. Omnia by Bvlgari has fragrance notes of mandarin, saffron, Masala Tea and white chocolate blended together.

Omnia Bvlgari 2.2 oz. Eau De Perfume Spray For Women

Splash Tunes Pro – The Perfect Bluetooth Shower Speaker

Splash Tunes Pro - The Perfect Bluetooth Shower Speaker

We have tried a variety of shower radios over the years but they all kind of suck.  Lots of static, batteries wear out, and you are stuck trying to figure out what radio station to shower to.  With this one, the women in your life can leave their iPod or iPhone outside the bathroom safe from all of the humidity while streaming their early morning playlist to this Bluetooth speaker.  If they want to listen to the radio, they can still stream the TuneIn or local radio station app.  If you are lucky, they will let you use it and you can listen to ESPN in the shower.  Win, win, win.

Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones

Sennheisser HD 202 Headphones

I bought Wendy a pair of these last year for Christmas.  They are the best selling over the ear headphones on Amazon and are consistently rated as one of the best pair of headphones you can get for the money.  A good pair of headphones gives you a time out from the day and is a great way to relax and shut out the outside world.   The difference between these headphones and the cheap pair that came with your iPhone or Android phone is significant.

Bath Bomb Gift Set

Bath Bomb Gift Set

Treat her after a long day with  this bath bomb set.  There is the following scents

  • RELAXATION (Lavender)
  • DETOX (Vanilla)
  • ENERGIZE (Grapefruit)
  • DESTRESS, SINUS (Peppermint)
  • CONGESTION RELIEF (Eucalyptus)

She’s love it and leave the bath feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

Surprise her with a leather weekend bag made from Italian calf leather with brass hardware.  Make it an even bigger surprise and put something into the bag like tickets for a weekend getaway.

Wendy suggested a new shaving kit when she did up the gift guide for men so I am doing the same here for women.

Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag

Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag

The Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag is a staple for the organized traveler. From its rich, 100% genuine leather exterior to its spacious interior compartments, this travel bag has it all! Designed to hold toiletry items of all shapes and sizes, this compact travel bag unzips to reveal two separate zippered compartments, two elastic pockets, and one large compartment. A stainless steel metal hanger extends from the top interior compartment, letting you hang the toiletry bag to maximize your counter space. The small exterior pocket is perfect for holding jewelry or any other last-minute item you might think of.

In it make sure there is:

Schick Hydro Silk Razor

The Grammercy Tavern Cookbook

The Grammercy Tavern Cookbook

One of the best New York restaurants, a culinary landmark that has been changing the face of American dining for decades, now shares its beloved recipes, stories, and pioneering philosophy. Now they are sharing their famous recipes which means this is a gift for you both to use in the kitchen.

Sephora Collection Beautiful Crush Blockbuster Palette 2015

Sephora Collection Beautiful Crush Blockbuster Palette 2015

While you are at it, get her a makeup set with this years top colors.  Makeup in 128 colors-72 eye shadows, 18 cream eyeliners, 32 lip glosses, and six blushes-allows for an almost infinite number of looks. The palette is organized vertically by color family and features a built-in mirror for super easy and foolproof makeup application every time.

It’s always hard to shop for the women on your Christmas and holiday gift list but hopefully this made it a little easier for you, no matter who you are shopping for.  If you have any comments or think I missed something the world should know about, let me know in the comments.  Of course if the person you are shopping for is a cook, check out Wendy’s Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for the Cook and Foodie.

Holiday Gift Guides

It Shouldn’t Be Up to Trudeau

So according to his mother, Margaret Trudeau, soon to be Prime Minister Trudeau will not be moving into 24 Sussex Drive because it is in need of dire repairs.  That’s a good thing and I am glad Trudeau has made that decision.

Of all of Harper’s decisions, the fact that he would not vacate 24 Sussex Drive when the National Capital Commission begged to move out for repairs really bugged me.  As Harper would say, “It’s fine for my family” and it probably was but by refusing to let the needed repairs done on his watch, he made the problems worse and as any home owner would know, more costly.

According to numerous media reports over the years 24 Sussex has problems with the roof, is drafty, doesn’t have central air, and needs to be rewired.  If it wasn’t the home of the Prime Minister, it would be torn down and condos built on the property.  If was in Saskatoon, it was be torn down and turned into a parking lot (it’s like we elected a Joni Mitchell song for Mayor).  It needs to be refurbished.

Who decides when to do this?  Right now the Prime Minister has final say on this but I have long said that the National Capital Commission should (they already manage the properties but as we saw, the PM can over rule them).  When it is time, every 30 years or so do so significant upgrades to 24 Sussex Drive, the Prime Minister and the family get the heave-ho and are moved to Harrington Lake for a while or another appropriate residence.  The same goes with Stornoway or even Rideau Hall.

The Prime Minister’s residence is too important of symbol and Canadian Heritage to fall victim to political whims of the Prime Minister.  Give them a budget, a long term mandate and don’t mess with their funding.

Glad to see that Trudeau is taking the first step towards this but there is a lot of work to be done.

18 years

I have been married for 18 years today to Wendy.   I was off all week from work so she was pretty much sick of me by the time today came around.

It was a long week.  We had a deal with Mark that he had to work hard in school and hand in all of his homework on time if he wanted to play football.  After backing down and giving him one more chance earlier in the year, he did it again and so I made the really hard choice to say, “no more football.”  He was mad, hurt, and frustrated but on Thursday we had a long talk about it and on Friday we went for breakfast and he understood that football was hurting him academically.

Of course the reason we went for breakfast on Friday was he was out of school because of parent teacher interviews.  His teachers love him, his marks are good but they would be amazing if he got his assignments done.  It was good for him to hear both those messages. 

Yesterday I was sick again.  The infectious disease specialist warned me that I could have flare ups of the infection and yesterday was horrible.  I had a fever, was in incredible pain, and even was struggling to breath.  I slept for a lot of the day and then Wendy and I went out to The Odd Couple restaurant and had a wonderful time.  We had plans to go out for a drink afterwards but I was exhausted so we cam home.

Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. LensI gave Wendy a new lens for our anniversary.  It’s a Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. Lens.  She has some good lenses but nothing this fast and so she is excited about it.  I had bought it a couple of months ago and she knew she was getting one.  I gave it to her early for Nuit Blanche.  She tested it out on this photo shoot with Marley.

I also got her a backpacking hammock.  Wendy works hard and doesn’t always take the time to relax.  My fear was with us in the mountains was that she was going to spend a lot of time making sure we were happy and not enough time chilling out.  This way I can force her (or guilt her) into taking some time and spending it on herself.  She liked it and I was happy with that.

She gave me a Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW camera bag.   I had been looking for a camera bag that can carry all of my stuff, plus some of the stuff I want to buy.  This bag basically is the bag to rule all of my bags.  That and Mark is thrilled because he can have my old bag.

So now I basically look like a balding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  If you hear reports of middle age and balding mutant ninja turtles turned vigilante in the sewers of Saskatoon, I have an alibi.

She also got me an Altec Lansing Soundblade which will sound great in the living room.

I am endorsing…

Since the editor of the site is the same as the publisher, I am given tremendous latitude in who I endorse around here.

In Saskatoon West where I live, I have a choice between:

  • Randy Donauer: Conservative
  • Lisa Abbott: Liberal
  • Sheri Benson: NDP

Of the three, the NDP were the only ones that knocked on my door.  A gaggle of Conservatives walked by my door, looked at the address, checked their database and kept walking.  Apparently they were not interested in either Wendy or my vote in this election.  I wasn’t even robo-called called by the Conservatives or the Liberals.  So yeah, thanks for the effort teams.

For me the decision comes down to the Liberals and the NDP, both parties are outside of my federal comfort levels.  I have serious problems with both of their platforms but nothing compared to the problems I had with the Conservative campaign. 

I also have been poorly served by Kelly Block’s office.  When I used to contact Carol Skelton’s office, I always got a personal follow up from Skelton, even when she was a minister.   The one time I contacted Kelly Block’s about a serious issue, I was sent Conservative Party talking points by an assistant. 

I have watched Randy Donauer as a city councillor and I was greatly disappointed in the change I saw from the time he announced his candidacy until now.  He was always a fiscal conservative which is needed but to see him pander that almost exclusively in council meetings was frustrating.  From the time that he announced his candidacy, I called on him to resign his seat on council (just as I did when Councillors Paulsen and Hill did when the ran for the Liberals) which is the same as other some other cities require.

As for the Conservative record. 

  • Bill C-51 when the United States has proven that local police will abuse powers.
  • Elimination of the Mandatory Long Form Census
  • Botched military procurement (which to be honest, isn’t all their fault)
  • Seeing military procurement as a job builder rather than equipping the Canadian Forces with the best gear possible.
  • The Mike Duffy debacle
  • The Pamela Wallin debacle
  • The decision to shut down the senate without making a serious effort at reforming it.
  • Lack of participation with the Premiers
  • Cutting funding to the Homelessness Partnering Program
  • The feud with the Supreme Court of Canada
  • The lack of desire to fix unsafe water conditions on Canadian reserves.
  • Muzzling of scientists then lying about it.

I grew up in a Conservative household.  I was part of PC Youth.  I still defend Grant Divine when push comes to shove but I can’t defend this record.  Part of me thinks that if another Conservative government had acted like this, Stephen Harper would start his own party… oh right, that is exactly what he did do.

I thought Lisa Abbott has run a great campaign.  So great that it may cause an unfavourable vote split between the Liberals and the NDP but that it the first past the post system.  She has run the best Liberal campaign I have ever seen in Saskatoon West since I moved here in 1984.   Her candidacy (and the Justin Trudeau campaign) have made Liberals relevant in Saskatoon West for the first time ever.  I can’t speak highly enough of how she carries herself in this campaign.

As for Sheri Benson, she has been working on issues that political parties ignored during this campaign.  Poverty and homelessness for years through the Saskatoon United Way.  She has brought different social agencies together (it’s like herding cats but harder) and brought focus to issues that few care about.  If Lisa Abbott has been helped by the Trudeau campaign, Benson has probably been hurt by the mediocre NDP campaign (the phrase “You NDP’d that up” for when you should win but don’t is now entering our lexicon).

If I lived in Saskatoon Grasswords, I would vote for Tracy Muggli and in Saskatoon University I’d vote for Cynthia Block.  Both are excellent candidates that deserve to be in Ottawa.

Living in Saskatoon West, I am going to endorse Sheri Benson.  She has shown the ability to move local issues that few cared about forward and that is what we will need in Ottawa.  In a minority government, all parties will need people who can bring people together.  Sheri will do that for the NDP. 

That being said, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lisa Abbott for her campaign.  She would also make a great MP from what I have seen and if either one of them are unsuccessful, I hope they run again either provincially or federally.

This is what Mark wants for Christmas

From the Verge

The dream car of your childhood can now be the dream car of your adulthood. A giant street-legal version of Little Tikes’ red and yellow car is currently for sale on eBay. It’s a one of a kind, and there are some real perks to it. There are huge windows (although there’s no glass), an engine so that you don’t have to walk it around, and it should be easy to spot in a parking lot.

The car was built in 2013 by the custom vehicle shop Attitude Autos. You may have heard about it back then: after being featured on the BBC, video of the car went viral online. Since then, it’s been popping up at charity events around the UK — the shop behind it seems to hope that whoever buys it next will put it to the same use. "We have managed to raise a substantial amount of money for children’s charities with the Crazy Coupe, so it’s potential in the right hands could be quite phenomenal," it writes.

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


Zippo Lighter

Zippo Lighter

Since 1932, Zippo has been making the finest and hardiest fire-making machine around. The Zippo is refillable, and nearly every part is replaceable, meaning the engraved metal casing given to your guy that will last just about forever.  Even if he doesn’t smoke, he’ll love having one.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

This is the knife that MacGuyver (and the Swiss military) made famous –

  • 2 Blades, 2 Screwdrivers, Wood Saw and other handy tools
  • Corkscrew, Reamer and Key Ring
  • Toothpick and Tweezers

Camper II Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox

The Jordon Cooper Christmas Gift GuidesHoliday Gift Guides

My 2016 Mayoral Campaign

I was asked a few times today if I was going to run for Mayor in 2016.  The answer is no.  I have no political aspirations and have no desire to be a politician.   That and I don’t like ties or suits.  Even if I did, big boned and balding politicians generally don’t do that well… wait a minute, we do really well in politics.

I have very little respect for career politicians.  There are many people I know (and we all have our lists) that desperately want to be elected to something and want to remain elected for financial, prestige, or even retirement reasons (I have heard of politicians whose entire retirement planning is based on getting elected and then government pension).  They see politics as a career and as a path to greater political power.  I don’t aspire to that.  I have control of the both the TV remote and the Apple TV remote at home.  I’m good.

I have a lot of respect for those that are public servants.  Those are people who are drawn to the service of their city, province, and country and that is the main motivating factor for them.  The problem is that most politicians start out that way but it’s a fine line until you transform into a politician where re-election comes before doing what is right.   Some public servants can be elected for decades and serve only the public.  I think of the Joe Clark’s, John Crosbie’s, or the countless MP, MLAs, and councillors that care far more about constituent issues and the big picture than party politics or personal gain.  They avoid the meanness that defines many politicians and they genuinely love their jobs.  I think they are great but I still wouldn’t want to be one.  I simply lack the desire to compromise on things and in our system, it is based on compromise and doing things you hate.

Then you also have the campaign fight.  That can’t be a lot of fun.  I remember door knocking a couple of decades ago and a guy came to the door with a shot gun, I was bit by a stray dog, and some naked women answered her door.  No wonder Atch stands on the streets and waves at cars.  Who can blame him?  If I was him I’d have a small portable fence with me at all times.  If someone from the media questioned me, I’d have them stand outside the fence and deal with the dogs.

I was out with some candidates and councillors years ago and they were talking about lawn sign stake storage and what a pain that is.  So let me get this straight, you win office and instead of celebrating, you have to clean out your shed and build extra storage for the stuff you need for the next campaign.  Wendy would not be pleased with that.  We have a small house, we don’t have a lot of storage.  She’d be out campaigning for Atch or Charlie Clark on the provision that they took all of the lawn sign stakes when I lost.

I’d be going, “How does the other campaigns get all of these leaks from?” and Wendy and Mark would be avoiding making eye contact with me as they easily moved stuff in and out of our shed.  Okay, that would be hilarious but still.

Also, the being recognized in public part is both good and bad.  Bad when someone tells me how stupid I am in front of my kids.  Good when they say nice things to me but I still find myself going, “please don’t punch me in the face” when someone goes, “Aren’t you Jordon Cooper?”.  Of course I could just be like one councillor who makes me go, “I thought they quit council” the rare time they speak. 

I guess I could run against Darren Hill but here is a list of his accomplishments in office and my position on them.

Darren Hill’s Record in Office

Jordon Cooper’s Position

Avenue B Diverter in Mayfair

Thought it was a good idea

Thought the Cosmo deal was a costly mistake


Disagrees with 33rd Street Bridge and says it would be built over his dead body.

We agree with that too although I hope no one has to die to stop it.

Wears colourful socks

Wears plain socks

Wears colourful ties

Has a tie just like Rob Ford’s NFL tie but has NHL logos on it.  Wishes he had a tie like Rob Ford’s NFL tie.  Would also wear a MLB tie.  Now that I think about it, that is a solid three tie rotation. 

Suggested that we wait a few years to buy a new city website when prices were lower.

Umm, yeah.

Tweets at celebrities

Does that actually work? (update: Darren says it does.)

Tweets at City Council Meetings

Tweets about confidential in-camera meetings that he read about in The StarPhoenix.

Ran for the federal Liberal Party after two terms as councillor.

Criticized Hill, Paulsen, Olauson, and Donauer for doing the same thing and not resigning their seat.

Non committal about in Council Twitter Wall.

Totally in favour of Twitter wall.   Really, really in favour of a Twitter wall.  Have I mentioned how badly I want City Council to have a live twitter wall. 

That would be a riveting debate.  I can see the moderator saying, “So the only area where you truly disagree is men’s socks.  Well let’s go back to that issue once more and Mr. Cooper, could you tell us where you got that NFL logo tie from?”

So after reading that chart over, I am not running in Ward 1 or anywhere else in the city since I live in Ward 1.  Darren is doing a fine job… well there was the vote where he voted to “right size the bridge” that was waste of tens of millions of dollars.   Nor do I ever aspire to being on Saskatoon City Council not now and not in the future.  Here is why.

Outside of Wendy and the boys, not many people have seen how sick I have been this summer.  It has scared Wendy and even made me wonder from time to time if I was going to make it.   I have never been so sick in my life and it hasn’t been fun.  Today my vital signs were so out of whack, the nurses freaked out and that happens all of the time.  There is no way I am strong enough to make it through a campaign even if I did want to.  I have never seriously considered it but I need get rid of the MRSA infection in my ankle and then get healthy again. 

I have been married with 18 years this week to Wendy and for the first time since we have been married, her depression and mental health issues are under control.  You have no idea how many times I have said, “next summer” will be better (well actually about 16 summers).  To actually have a summer trip go well and her depression be managed was a huge thing in life but we have a lot of catching up to do.

Those lost summers have come with a price of me being there for Wendy and not having the time to spend with Mark and Oliver.   It’s why next summer is being spent in the backcountry of Banff and Kootney National Parks.  The only door knocking I plan to do is at the door of a mountain tea house at the end of a long hike (I hope I don’t get bit by anything)

I don’t know how politicians handle their commitments to the public and family.   Is there a less family friendly job then being a politician at any level?  For this I am not being sarcastic, I can’t imagine how hard it is to juggle all of that well. I enjoy being a dad.

So my plans are set for election night 2016, vote and watch Monday Night Football while writing about those that did decide to run.  That is my goal for 2020, 2024, and 2028.  It is also my goal for any and all provincial and federal campaigns.  I have even a less of a desire to be told how to vote by a government or opposition whip who got the job because they are difficult to deal with in Question Period.

So yeah, I am never running for public office but thanks for suggesting it.  Throw your support behind someone that wants the job, there are some good ones out there, support them.

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