Tag Archives: 23 and Me

Gift Ideas for Men: Gadgets and other Geekery

Okay it’s November 1 which means that it is the official start of the holiday shopping season.  The team of helper monkeys at JordonCooper.com are here to help and will be publishing holiday gift guides for men once a week during the month of November which will give you no excuse for having to do last minute shopping in December.  Why so early, well while you were sleeping last night, the malls have torn down their Halloween decorations and now look like Santa’s Toy Workshop and already department stores are starting to have Boxing Day sales to get rid of stuff that not even their buyers would give as gifts.  Plus, who likes last minute gift buying stress.  Today’s gift buying guide is for those geeky guys in your life.

R2D2 :: He is the ultimate gadget and having both served Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, he is built to last.  For $200, you can bring him home and reunite him with his proper master.  In addition to helping keep your X-Wing fighter’s deflector shields online, this state-of-the-art R2 series astromech droid unit is ready to obey your commands.  You can grab his attention by saying “Hey, R2” and he’s ready for more than 40 voice commands.  He remembers his famous friends, like Luke Skywalker, C-3PO or Jabba the Hutt, and each name will stir up a different response depending on R2’s “feelings” for that character.  | $199.99 (USD)

Swiss Army Knife :: For those times when R2D2 is busy doing something else, you can’t beat an authentic Swiss Army Knife.  Not just any Swiss Army knife but the same model that MacGyver himself used.  I know Leatherman’s are the now in vogue but there are times when the old school approach works best.  For me, my grandfather carried a jack knife with him every day of his life and while I don’t carry one that often, it reminds me of some family roots and a time where everyone did. | $17 (USD)

Stuhrling Original Men’s Special Reserve Chernabog Skeleton Mechanical Watch :: All men need a watch that turns heads and for $250, this one does exactly that.   This stunning timepiece does not have a rotor attached to the movement, so you must manually window the crown to keep it running, a design that puts you in touch with the artistry and precision of automatic movement. Its remarkable 17-jewel mechanical engine can hold 40 hours of power reserve on its ample mainspring, while a silver-tone tonneau case with exhibition back lends durability. Water resistant to 165 feet.  | $249 (USD)

MoviePix HD Camera :: I bought one of these last year and I have come to love it.  While there is nothing wrong with the Flip HD camera and I have heard rave reviews about the new Kodak Zi8, this has been a great camera for us.  The nice thing about it is vs. the Flip is that it allows for external SD cards.  The 8 gig card I have allows me to record 2 hours of video on it.  While you are it, why not pick up Magix Movie Edit Pro 15, a great little video editing program for $60 (or less).  If you aren’t sure whether or Movie Edit Pro will meet your needs, you can download a free trial (it’s a 196MB download).  For those of you who are interested in the Kodak Zi8 or the Flip Ultra HD, here is a side by side review of the two cameras. | $123

The Death Star Lego Kit :: Does Lego know it’s audience or what?  At 3,803 pieces, you aren’t getting this for the kids or even letting the kids come into the room where it is housed.  It includes the Superlaser control room and target monitor, Imperial conference chamber, TIE Advanced hangar bay with moving launch rack, Emperor’s throne room, droid maintenance room, detention block & trash compactor.  Along with it comes 6 new and exclusive minifigures and droids only found in this set: Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in their Stormtrooper outfits, the assassin droid, interrogation droid, Death Star droid and 2 Death Star Troopers.  The Death Star measures 41cm tall and 42cm wide and the TIE Advanced measures 9cm wide.  | $529.95 (USD)

Genetics Kit by National Geographic :: If you have read the book 1491, you know that your ancestors left “markers” on your DNA that can be traced back tens of thousands of years (doh! There goes my young earth readership).  For someone like Wendy who is from Guyana, a culture rich in cross cultural marriage because slavery.   Your results will reveal your deep ancestry along a single line of direct descent (paternal or maternal) and show the migration paths they followed thousands of years ago. Your results will also place you on a particular branch of the human family tree. Some anthropological stories are more detailed than others, depending upon the lineage you belong to. For example, if you are of African descent, your results will show the initial movements of your ancestors on the African continent, but will not reflect most of the migrations that have occurred within the past 10,000 years. Your individual results may confirm your expectations of what you believe your deep ancestry to be, or you may be surprised to learn a new story about your genetic background.  You will not receive a percentage breakdown of your genetic background by ethnicity, race, or geographic origin. Nor will you receive confirmation of an association with a particular tribe or ethnic group.  23 and Me also offers DNA tests for $99 which offer a wider range of ancestry options. | $99 (USD)

If your toddler is a bit of a geek, you may want to consider the Radio Flyer Retro Rocket.  Yes they are probably still in diapers but it is never to young to start preparing them for a career in NASA. | $72.87 (USD)

Moleskine Large Sketchbook :: The Moleskine Large Sketchbook is made with top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go drawings sketches and tempera colors. Every Moleskine product is thread bound and 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. | $12.21 (USD). If you are like me and prefer the smaller sketchbooks, Dollarama carries a rip off Moleskine for $1.50 a piece.  A great stocking stuffer for the freeform thinker in your family.

Maxell iPod Charging Dock :: I have one of these at the lake that I have hooked up to a mini stereo system.  As soon as we walk into the cabin, an iPod Nano or Touch is hooked in, charged up, and playing music.  Looking back at it, I should have bought three of them.  One for the office, one for home, and one for the cabin.  It really is a great tool for us iPod addicts. | $14 (USD)

Koda iPod Dock :: I fell in love with this audio and video dock for your iPod the first time I saw it.  With a wooden case and classic design, it will look great anywhere in the house or den and they sound great.  In addition to playing your music, they are designed to play video as well.  YouTube never looked so good.  They are $39.99 (Can) at XS Cargo or $50.79 (USD) at Amazon.com.

Sangean WR-1 AM/FM Wooden Cabinet Radio :: At the lake there are a couple of times when a great radio would be really handy, like when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing on a Saturday afternoon.  Yes a satellite radio is cool but not all sports are on XM and Sirius (which boggles my mind) and there are times when what you want to listen to is being played locally.  If that is the case, this is the radio you want.  The WR-1 is the culmination of 30 years of experience in the design and manufacture of quality, state-of-the-art radios.  Plus, CBC and NPR sound better in a radio that looks like this. | $91.36

You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.  Now good luck with your shopping!

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Emotionally Distant Father

A friend of mine/arch-nemesis has drawn her father and father-in-law for this year’s Christmas celebration and demanded a Christmas gift guide for them.  While I am generally compliant towards requests from friends who have incriminating stories about me, this one is a hard one as I don’t have a relationship with my dad * and I don’t have a lot of use for my father-in-law so I am at a bit of a loss.  While I had to laugh at the label emotionally distant father, the problem with too many dads out there is that they don’t exactly excel at communicating what they want for Christmas.  If you have to shop for one, we feel for you.

Lucky for all of us, we do buy Christmas gifts for some hard to buy for people who are fathers and here are some of the ideas that I have come up with over the last couple of years.

Books/DVDs

  • Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics by Warren Kinsella :: If you dad talks about politics all of the time and thinks he knows more than Mike Duffy but in reality has the same leadership instincts as Stephane Dion, maybe it is time to help your dad sound more knowledgeable.  This is awesome on a couple of levels.  First of all it will raise the level of political discussion in your house but if you dad lives in rural Alberta, he will have to explain to his friends why he has a book prominently displayed by the Prince of Darkness and how he is worried his child has become a liberal.
  • Jean Chretien: My Years as Prime Minister While we are talking politics and tweaking dad a bit, I suggest you pick up either a copy of Brian Mulroney’s autobiography or Jean Chretien’s autobiography.  Which one you give him, depends on how he votes.  If he votes Conservative and has a Joe Clark tattoo, give him Jean Chretien’s autobiography.  If he has campaign photos of him and Pierre Trudeau from 1968, you get him the Mulroney autobiography but you do it with a straight face… and then when all of the gifts are given out, pull out the book he wanted from beneath the tree.  If you are American, substitute the book Sarah Palin paid someone else to write for her or something about the Kennedy’s.
  • The War by Ken Burns on DVD and The War: An Intimate History.  The DVD is a masterpiece and I enjoy it every time it comes on television but the book is special in it’s own way.  It moves between the big picture of the war and the intimate details of the conflict with ease and despite telling the same story as the the mini series, has a much different feel.
  • Some books on the War in Iraq.  I recommend Fiasco or the Gamble by Thomas E. Ricks or The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army by Greg Jaffe.  All three books are great.
  • Band of Brothers (book) by Stephen Ambrose :: The men of E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, volunteered for this elite fighting force because they wanted to be the best in the army–and avoid fighting alongside unmotivated, out-of-shape draftees. The price they paid for that desire was long, arduous, and sometimes sadistic training, followed by some of the most horrific battles of World War II.  Yes the mini-series is great but this book is even better and is one of the best books on World War II that I have ever read.   If he already has Band of Brothers, he may also like Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany by Ambrose as well.  A skillful blending of eyewitness accounts (gathered mostly from the oral history collection at the Univ. of New Orleans’s Eisenhower Center and from personal interviews) gives the reader an intimate feel of what war was like for infantrymen in the European theater of operations–from the beaches of France to victory at the Elbe River.
  • Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes.  While Rhodes won the Pullitzer for The Making of the Atomic Bomb, I found this book to be even better.  Both of these books are epic endeavors of research and writing telling the story of how America started the nuclear arms race, the concerns of the scientists (and why they did it), how the Russians were desperate to find out, and the politics behind it.  All of those topics could be books by themselves and once put together, form the foundation of a couple of truly remarkable books.
  • The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson :: You can read my review of it here.  If your dad in an inventor or just loves to read an engaging story of history, this is an excellent choice for your dad as he takes a break from puttering around in the shop while working on his doomsday device and avoiding the to-do list your mother made for him.

Gadgets for Dad

  • Red AA battery magliteMagLite :: Every man needs their own flashlight.  At the cabin we have a million flashlights, some headlights and battery powered lanterns but everyone wants to use mine.  Mark got me a Maglite for my birthday last year and I can finally say, “Hands off, go drain the battery on someone else’s flashlight.”  Dads enjoy being territorial and petty once in a while, especially with a cool flashlight.
  • Olivetti Manual Typewriter :: The last manual typewriter in production and the perfect tool for dad to write out his autobiography, love notes to your mother or he could just set it up in the living room to pound out a couple of notes to the grandkids who will totally miss out on the fact that their note was written on a manual typewriter.  The other positive that unlike his laptop, DVD player, and home theatre system, he won’t need you to come over and fix this when it breaks.
  •  Numark TTi USB Turntable with iPod Dock Numark TTi USB Turntable with iPod Dock :: There is a good chance that your dad has some old school music sitting in his closet that he lovingly looks at but has no idea how to play his Best of Olivia Newton John records let alone get them on the iPod that you gave him last Christmas.  This should kill two birds at once.  The bad news is that his old records have found a second life and we aren’t sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing but that’s your problem, not mine.
  • Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones Since we are talking about your dad’s bad taste in music, why not give him a nice set of headphones.  Not just any set of headphones but some noise cancelling headphones.  They have long been a must have for frequent fliers but even for those of you whose dad isn’t flying to Toronto every week, they reduces unwanted ambient noise by 87.4%, providing a quieter environment to enhance his listening experience.
  • 23 and Me :: They send you a kit, you spit into a tube and send it back.  They analyze the DNA in your saliva, then tell you about your genetic ancestry, and your susceptibility to genetically linked medical conditions.  If you have a genetically linked condition, you also will know who to blame.
  • Atari 2600 Flashback 2 :: Okay, so your dad’s gaming skills started to fall behind when the Colecovision came out but don’t hold that against him and let him reconnect with the games of yesteryear and get him a vintage game system. It features the same wood grain paneling and look of the Atari 2600, and will capture the feel through two classic joysticks for multi-player competition and vintage controls. The system comes pre-loaded with over 30 classic games. No new purchases are required, just connect it to your TV and play! The system that brought you hits like Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Millipede, Missile Command, Combat and Pong now has them all collected on one handy system.

Outdoors

  • The Blue Pod The Pod :: If dad has a camera, he probably has a tripod or two.  If he likes to take photographs out of the house and doesn’t like the hassle of finding the perfect place for his mount, the Pod could be a great option.  Basically it is what happens when you combine a camera mount with a bean bag.  While you are at it, why not get dad a new digital camera?
  • Your dad probably has an old camcorder kicking around but new camcorders like the Kodak Zi8 are so much easier to use.  If you have grandkids, give one of these to dad, set him up on YouTube and let him go crazy or let him film himself out in the wilderness as a Les Stroud wanna be.  He will be amazed at how easy and how high quality Kodak’s camera is.
  • Leatherman :: While most men want one, it is a lot of money to shell out for a multi tool but a the same time it is a iconic brand and tool that your dad will appreciate it as a gift.  While you are at it, toss in a copy of Les Stroud’s book, Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere or the SAS Survival Handbook.  If dad isn’t likely to read, pick up all three seasons of Survivorman instead.
  • Labatt Stubby Beer Bottle Weber Go Anywhere Grill :: Dad probably already has a kick butt grill at home but this is perfect for bringing to the beach or over to your place when you don’t feel like firing up the grill yourself.  It’s also charcoal which will bring back good memories for your father of a time when he could afford to go to NHL games, drank stubby beers, and his sideburns were a fashion statement rather than the foundation for his comb-over.  While you are at it, toss in a cookbook or two about cooking with charcoal to refresh his memory on how to do it.

* The last time I bought a Christmas gift for my dad, I called his wife and asked what she was getting him.  The answer was a Dodge Viper.  I seriously said, “Err, a model one?”  It wasn’t.  So we had my $40.00 gift and her $100,000.00 gift.  I felt like a tool.

You can find more Christmas gift ideas here.  If you have any other suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments.