Tag Archives: Samantha Power

Christmas Gift Guide: For Your Husband/Boyfriend/Men in Your Life | 2011 Edition

It’s Wendy again and I am pretty lucky as Jordon does all of the Christmas shopping in our family and over the years he has created some incredible gift guides for his website which have generated a loyal following.  I traditionally write the Gift Guide husbands/boyfriends/fathers and this year I get to kick off the festivities as mine will go first.  How cool is that?  Hopefully I don’t disappoint and as always if you have good ideas, leave them in the comments below.

Leatherman New Wave Multitool | Last year Lee went out and bought Jordon a nice multi-tool and he has used it every day since then.  It’s amazing how many times it has come in handy around the house or when we have been out driving or at the lake.  It’s been used to fix the car, perform first aid, cut down a tree, screw in more than one screw, and open many a package.  You really don’t realize how handy and indispensible they are until you don’t have one around.  We have picked up some less inexpensive ones over the years and we keep one in both of our car safety kits and also up at the cabin.  If the guy you are shopping for doesn’t have one, get him one.
($62 at Amazon.com)

iPod Touch | If the guy you are shopping for has an iPhone then don’t bother but if he has an Android or Blackberry powered phone, don’t buy into the hype that they can listen to music with it.  They can but you can’t use iTunes and it’s a big time drain on the battery.  Get them a 4th generation iPod Touch and let them put their videos and music on it.  For Jordon, his iPod has many of the same apps that his phone does, it means that he can grab it any time he needs it, even if his phone is out of reach or charging.  Plus no matter how easy people tell you it is to get music on your Android or Blackberry, iTunes makes it easier.  While it won’t replace your HD camcorder, there was been a lot of times when we have it with us and it takes excellent HD video.  Photos are generally grainy but the video is good to excellent.
(32gb for $279 at Amazon.com)

Seinheisser CX 500-B headphones | Whatever you do, upgrade his headphones. The Apple headphones may be iconic but they aren’t very comfortable. Instead try the CX 500’s which are high quality, noise-isolating ear-canal phones with a crisp, clear, bass driven stereo sound. They feature a volume control integrated in the cable and come with a new, unique type of ear adapter for an improved fit and an even better passive noise attenuation.
($30 at Amazon.com)

Kindle Fire/Kobo Vox | If a iPad is out of your price range and you don’t want a Blackberry Playbook (not many of us do), why not look at an Android powered Kindle Fire or if you are in Canada, check out the Kobo Vox.  They aren’t iPads but they are not $500 either.  They allow you to install apps, read books, watch some video, install apps surf the web, play Angry Birds, tweet, and check email easily.

Which one should get?  Amazon has a faster tablet while the Kobo Vox is available in Canada.  There have been some pretty annoying issues with the Kobo Vox as Kobo has a reputation of shipping before it it is ready.  They have however released five firmware updates which means that the Vox is getting better with each release.
(Both are $200 at Amazon.com or Chapters)

Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson | Read the summary and tell me that the tech geek in your life won’t want to read this.  Plus, after he is done with it, you can read it.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

($18 at Amazon.com)

The Wire | Season 1 ($21)| Season 2 ($21.49) | Season 3 ($21.49) |Season 4 ($21.49) | Season 5 ($21.49) | Complete Series ($149) | If you haven’t seen The Wire, you are missing out on one of the best shows ever made for television.  It’s more than the acting and the writing, it’s the concept of dedicating an entire season to one story and crime and letting it unfold.  I have watched the entire series twice with Jordon and it gets better wit age.  I really is worth watching and owning.  It would be a fantastic gift to any man on your Christmas gift.
(All seasons available at Amazon.com by clicking on the season link)

Ken Burns: Prohibition |  Well let’s see you have Ken Burns telling the story of prohibition so you have gangsters, smugglers, corrupt cops, good cops, and a government that was comfortable actually poisoning alcohol to keep it from being consumed.  Yeah, this is going to be a good documentary series.
($19 at Amazon.com)

Mad Men | Jordon got into Mad Men last Christmas and while advertising isn’t my passion, I have come to really enjoy the series.  It’s also reassuring that someone, somewhere is making television worth watching again.
(Season 1 is $10.49 at Amazon.com. Seasons 2, 3, & 4)

Tivoli Model One | Old school AM/FM in a timelessly sleek design. I bought Jordon one a couple of years ago and he loves it.  We actually went and bought a second one for the cabin.  It gets great reception in the middle of nowhere and on a hot summer day when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing, it’s a great way to listen on the deck with all of your friends.  The Tivoli Model One has a rich, full sound thanks to sound pioneer Henry Kloss, and the radio has come to be a modern design must-have. This gift is perfect for a desk, in the kitchen- anywhere he can listen to the baseball game, CBC Radio One, or the oldies station.  Another tabletop option worth considering is the classic Sangean WR-11 radio.  Different design but same classic look.
(Tivoli Model One is $149 at Amazon.com | Seagean WR-11 is $80 at Amazon.com)

Wooden Pocket Knife | Jordon’s grandfather carried a wooden pocket knife with him his entire life.  Today while in Eddie Bauer he was surprised to see a great looking wooden pocket knife for sale.  Eleven functions in one beautifully crafted tool: scissors, fish scaler, hook remover, reamer with sewing eye, can opener, Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, flathead screwdriver, small blade, and large blade.
($15 at Eddie Bauer)

MI5 | I fell in love with this long running BBC series along with Jordon.  This is adult, post-watershed drama clearly inspired by the hard-hitting style of shows as 24 and The Sopranos.  I have never seen a show so willing to kill off major characters but the one that remains (Harry) pulls show all together.  It’s a lot of fun, action packed and even controversial.
(Season 1 is $22 at Amazon.com  Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9)

Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew | I bought this book for Jordon tis summer and he really enjoyed it.  It’s not a light read as it is a scholarly history of MI5 but it is readable and incredibly interesting.  I found myself fascinated by some of the stories he would read from it as well as the personalities of the people behind the vaunted intelligence agency.  If you loved one is a fan of history, you can’t go wrong with this book.
($18.15 from Amazon.com)

Fuji Finepix XP20 | Jordon bought this camera this summer and loves it.  It’s waterproof and ruggedized design means that it goes everywhere with him, including the sometimes clear/sometimes murky waters of Last Mountain Lake.  It features 14 megapixels resolution with an impressive 5x wide zoom with dual image stabilization to shoot sharp image quality in any condition. The 2.7 inch LCD is clear and easy to see even in bright conditions and the bright LED lights the way in the dark. Also it is equipped with a strengthened glass lens cover providing outdoor protection. Other features include one touch underwater movie recording, Motion Panorama with automatic stitch, Face Detection, HD Video, and more.
($135 at Amazon.com)

The Power Broker by Robert Caro | Both the postman and myself got hernias when this book was delivered.  It is 1344 pages and a Pulitzer Prize winner about Robert Moses.  Who was Robert Moses?  Well he was the urban designer that changed the face of New York City and much of New England forever.  His car centric urban design probably influenced how we live more than anyone else.  He was feared, hated, and admired all at the same time.  Just as it’s a book about Moses, it’s a biography of New York City.  This book is coming out as a movie (or a long mini-series) next year.  Read the book first.
($16.50 at Amazon.com)

Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | I haven’t read it yet but Jordon said it was the best book he read in 2010.   The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN.  He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.  While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.
($6.80 at Amazon.com)

Survivorman: The Complete Series | A couple of years ago Jordon was surfing the television and stumbled upon Les Stroud surviving a week in Alaska and all of us got hooked on the show.  We own all three seasons (Season 1, 2, 3) but you can get the entire series in one box from Less Stroud’s online store.  If you are interested in the cultures Stroud interacted with on the show, make sure you check out the complete series of Beyond Survival
($69 from Les Stroud.ca)

Tabletop fountain | It depends on the office environment that your husband works in.  At the Salvation Army Community Services, Jordon’s office was both too hot and too dry.  A tabletop fountain added some humidity into the air and cooled it down a bit.  Just make sure you get him a plug in version, not one that runs on batteries.  It’s one of those things that once the batteries run out, it never gets used again.
($37 from Amazon.com)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 | I never bought Jordon video games but he has made a sacred vow never to let Mark beat him at a game and so every once in a while Jordon takes a couple of days and beats a game.  This year he beat Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Battlefield: Bad Company, and Call of Duty: World at War and InFamous for the Playstation 3.  While he talks of the sacred vow, deep down he does it to escape and unwind.  If Jordon was creating this list, he would add Infamous 2 and Battlefield 3 to the list.  Depending on how old the game is, you can get them for a really good deal.
(Call of Duty is $59 at Amazon.com)

Kodak Zx5 Playsport | Jordon is a big fan of is Kodak Zi8 camera but Kodak isn’t making them any longer and has instead brought out the Zx5 Playsport.  It’s ruggedized, water proof (even has underwater white balance and shoots stunning video).  While we have a camcorder, you would be amazed at the amount of time we shot great video with our Kodak because we had it with us.
($109 at Amazon.com)

Creative Vado | The third generation of the Creative Vado may not be ruggedized but does have an external microphone port which means that with a lavalier or a shotgun microphone, you are going to get much better audio than you would with most standard camcorders.  Not only is the price right but along with Kodak Playsport, it offers up a wide variety of video options as well.
($79 at Amazon.com)

Note: If you are looking for some inexpensive video editing software, check out this list from PC World.

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Really Smart People | 2010 Edition

You need a gift for someone smart, someone who wants to know about everything – what happened, how it works, why it all got started. Fortunately, the globally curious have a lot of hobbies which makes them kind of easy to shop for, even if you don’t always remember to sleep and eat.  Below are some ideas for the smart people in your life.  If you are looking for something not so elitist, check out my other Christmas Gift Guides.

Sangean WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio :: CBC Radio and NPR sounds so much more profound coming from a wooden radio.  Speaking from personal experience, there is something about sitting around a radio on a hot summer day, sipping iced tea, while reading a good magazine.

Your own personal card cataloging system :: It seems like book thieves are everywhere these days. Even your closest friends will try to keep your rare, out-of-print novels if you don’t keep an eye on them. And no one really wants to pay $60 for another one. Thankfully, there now is a solution to your book-losing woes. The Personal Library Kit provides everything you need for keeping track of books, and an eye on those shameful book thieves.  Of course card cataloging your books is only half the battle, keeping them organized is the second half.  Sure you could use LibraryThing but check out this old school way of keeping your cards organized.

Amazon Kindle with Wifi | I wasn’t convinced that I needed or wanted an Amazon Kindle until the Kindle 3 came out.  First of all the hardware is amazing; one month of battery life, wifi, built in web browser, support for Instapaper… The other reason is that you don’t even need a Kindle to read Kindle books…Amazon has readers for the iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Blackberry, WinPhone 7, Windows, and OS X.  It has killer multi-platform support.  Since it sync’s up across platforms, I can sneak a couple of pages in while I am work, while waiting at the doctors and resume reading when I get home that night.  The best book is the one that’s always with you While it’s not a iPad, it’s not just a book reader either.  You can also get any number of newspapers on your Kindle, delivered daily…

  1. The New York Times ($19.99/month)
  2. International Herald Tribune ($19.99/month)
  3. The Globe and Mail ($15.99/month)
  4. National Post ($14.99/month)
  5. The Washington Post ($23.99/month)
  6. The StarPhoenix ($13.99/month)
  7. USA Today ($23.99/month)
  8. Slate ($8.99/month)
  9. The Financial Times ($27.99/month)

There is also magazines like Time ($3/month), The Atlantic Monthly ($2.49), Foreign Policy($3.49), among many others.  $139 from Amazon

Parker Sonnet Fountain Pen | Inspired by AKMA’s posts on fountain pens, may I suggest a Parker Sonnet fountain pen as a great gift for that special person.  At $75 it isn’t inexpensive but it won’t break the bank either.   This Sonnet has a stainless steel finish with a mineral metallic luster. The metal has been brushed to create a light texture effect but polished for a smooth touch. It has a 23 carat gold plated body trim and 23 carat gold plated stainless steel nib. The nib is decorated with a lattice work pattern and stamped with the Parker name. Different body finishes and nib sizes available to suit your style. This pen comes with a built-in converter and one black ink cartridge. $75 from Jet Pens

Moleskine Large Notebook | The Moleskine Large Notebook is made with top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go notes.  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.  It will go perfect with a Parker Sonnet Fountain Pen| $12.21 from Amazon

Olivetti Manual Typewriter | If you want to have an old, classic feel when you are writing, you must check out the Olivetti Manual Typewriter. For fans of the vintage and things with an antique feel, you will definitely like this product. No electricity is needed with this manual typewriter so you can save on electricity costs. This particular style is the last manual typewriter available in the market today. This makes the Olivetti Manual Typewriter a collector’s item already. $105 from Amazon

A subscription to City Journal | City Journal is a quarterly magazine that focuses on urban policy.  Although the magazine is based in New York City, it covers issues of national scope.   It’s has a fiscally conservative point of view but chances are that whoever you are shopping for can figure that out by themselves.  $23 for four issues.

Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | This is the best book I read in 2010.  The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN.  He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.  While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.  The book is $5.17 on Amazon.com and the DVD is available for $19.98 (in DVD-R format)

Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets by David Simon | Another one of my favourite books of 2010.  David Simon, who was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, spent four years on the police beat before taking a leave of absence to write this book. He had persuaded the Baltimore police department to allow him unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for calendar year 1988, and throughout that year he shadowed one shift of detectives as they traveled from interrogations to autopsies, from crime scenes to hospital emergency rooms. Baltimore recorded 234 murders during the year Simon spent with the homicide unit. During the two years he spent writing Homicide, an additional 567 murders occurred.

Kodak Zi8 Video Camera | In case they are more interested creating content rather than just watching it, look at getting them a Kodak Zi8 camera.  It has a microphone jack which means that you can easily add an external 1/8 microphone for even better sound.    It allows you to record High Definition video (1080p at 30 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio) and comes with some half-decent editing software. Zi8 is $119 from Amazon.

Some recommended accessories for the Zi8

A Kiva Gift Card | Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.  You can help someone get started by sending them a Kiva gift card ($25 minimum) which will allow them to get started and then make microloans to any project that they want to get behind.  Not only are you giving a unique gift this Christmas but you are helping change the life of numerous other people (as the loan is paid back, it can be lent out again and again).  They won’t be alone.  As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

Final Draft 8 | If the person you are buying for is looking at creating a movie script or a screenplay, this software allows you to focus their creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays.  It combines powerful word processing with professional script formatting in one self-contained, easy-to-use package. There is no need to learn about script formatting rules–Final Draft automatically paginates and formats your script to industry standards as you write.  Calling it “a solid sequel to what has become the industry-standard screenwriting application,” Macworld magazine gives Final Draft 8 a rating of 4.5 mice out of 5. $149 from Amazon

If they are writing the great American novel and don’t seem too keen on using the Olivetti Manual Typewriter, check out WriteNow 4.  The software is compatible with Windows Mac OSX. With abundant personalized options, WriteItNow has perfected the art of allowing the writer to customize the interface to fit his or her writing needs. You can: (1) Drag scenes, chapters, events, and ideas to new locations; (2) View character relationships in web diagrams; (3) View story events in a sleek timeline; (4) Visualize layout with a flexible Story Board; and (5) Keep track of manuscript submissions. $69 via Amazon

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for your Husband / Father / Boyfriends (all of the men in your life) | 2010 Edition

It’s Wendy and I keep telling Jordon that he needs to stop leaving the password for his blog login laying around and he never listens to me.  As he said, “Bill Clinton lost the nuclear launch codes and nothing bad happened.”  Well what happened is that I am posting a gift guide for what to get the men in your life.  Hopefully this post meets the requirements of the JordonCooper.com Style Guide.

What do you give to someone who spends his day working in a non-profit and then comes home every night to take care of the boys?  I had Jordon give me a few suggestion which I combined with a few ideas of my own.

32 gb iPod Touch | Jordon being the geek that he is, bought a 1G iPod Touch as soon as they came out.  He has sat out the last two upgrades but now the iPod Touch has a new high resolution screen, camera, and Facetime.  Even I can see it’s time to upgrade and get him a new one.   The iPod Touch is a music player, gaming platform, video player, and a Personal Information Manager.  Jordon carries his with him each day.  If your loved one doesn’t have a smartphone, he will love one of these.

Sony PSP 3000 / PSP Go | Lee bought Jordon a PSP a couple of years ago and Jordon loves it.  While he was devastated that NCAA Football 11 or the Force Unleashed II are not being released for the PSP, there are still a bunch of good games to play and toss in as additional gifts.  Here are a couple of suggestions

Amazon Kindle with Wifi | Jordon loves books but he hates taking books back and forth to the cabin.  With the Kindle he can load it up, bring it to the lake, grab some more books if he needs to, and has them whether he goes.   The Kindle also works well with Instapaper, RSS feeds, and can access the web.  While it’s not a iPad, it’s not just a book reader either.  One of the things that pushed Jordon towards wanting a Kindle was it’s support for major newspapers like;

  1. The New York Times ($19.99/month)
  2. International Herald Tribune ($19.99/month)
  3. The Globe and Mail ($15.99/month)
  4. National Post ($14.99/month)
  5. The Washington Post ($23.99/month)
  6. The StarPhoenix ($13.99/month)
  7. USA Today ($23.99/month)
  8. Slate ($8.99/month)
  9. The Financial Times ($27.99/month)

There is also magazines like Time ($3/month), The Atlantic Monthly ($2.49), Foreign Policy ($3.49), among many others.  I am not the news junkie that Jordon is but I was surprised that you can’t get Macleans or Sports Illustrated yet.  Maybe down the road.

While it doesn’t have the feature set that the Kindle does, you may also be interested in Chapter’s Kobo book reader which also has a growing list of newspapers available to be subscribed to. $149 from Chapters/Indigo

5.1 Channel Surround Sound System | This one works with seven different audio sources (for those of you who need hook ups for your PS3, TV, Wii, stereo, computer and whatever geek devices they fancy).  If you have never watched a movie with 5.1 channel surround sound, you have no idea what you are missing.  It’s a gift everyone in the family with thank you for getting.  It even hooks up to an iPod and if you want to go old school, the radio.  $99.99 at XS Cargo or $183 at Amazon.com

The Wire | Season 1 ($30)| Season 2 ($30) | Season 3 ($30) | Season 4 ($30) | Season 5 ($30) | Complete Series ($105) | For Father’s Day we went out and bought Jordon a portable DVD player and Season One of The Wire and was blown away by how good the series is.  It is by far the greatest television show that I have ever watched on television and I was sad when it ended.  I could go on but Jason Kottke has devoted so much energy blogging The Wire over the last couple of years, I’ll send you there.  I’ll give you a warning though, this is not a series you will watch with anyone under the age of 16.  It is brutally violent, offensive language and the occasional sex scene.  If your significant other has already seen The Wire, check out this Re-Elect Clay Davis t-shirt. $22.

Battlestar Galactica | Season 1 ($36.49) | Season 2.5 ($33.49) | Razor ($11.49) | Season 3 ($37.99) | Season 4.5 ($34.99) | Complete Series ($140) | In case you were isolated from popular culture for the last couple of years, here is the story line of the incredibly popular science fiction series, Battlestar Galactica.  Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant part of the galaxy, where a civilization of humans live on a series of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. The approximately 50,000 human survivors flee into space aboard any spacecraft they can reach. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the eponymous Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William “Bill” Adama and President Laura Roslin, the Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.

American Heritage Leather Duffle Bag by J.W. Hulme | In case you are looking for the greatest duffle bag ever made, your search is over.  The J.W. Hulme leather duffle bag is the Rolls Royce of carry-ons.   It’s the kind of bag that says, “I’m better than you and I am not afraid to talk about it”.  The bag is made out of distressed leather and then refined by buffing and antiquing each bag by hand which gives it it’s one in a kind look.  It’s only $899 and available at J.W. Hulme.  At that price, I would leave the price tag visible.  Now Jordon really wants one but we have a rule around here.  Any Christmas gifts that will cause us to choose between making our mortgage payment and being homeless will not be considered. Maybe next year, Jordon, maybe next year.

Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | I haven’t read it yet but Jordon said it was the best book he read in 2010.   The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN.  He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.  While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.  The book is $5.17 on Amazon.com and the DVD is available for $19.98 (in DVD-R format)

Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets by David Simon | Another one of Jordon’s favourite books of 2010.  After falling in love with The Wire, Jordon went out and bought both of David Simon’s books, Homicide and The Corner.  David Simon, who was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, spent four years on the police beat before taking a leave of absence to write this book. He had persuaded the Baltimore police department to allow him unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for calendar year 1988, and throughout that year he shadowed one shift of detectives as they traveled from interrogations to autopsies, from crime scenes to hospital emergency rooms. Baltimore recorded 234 murders during the year Simon spent with the homicide unit. During the two years he spent writing Homicide, an additional 567 murders occurred.

The Pacific | The Pacific is an epic 10-part miniseries that delivers a realistic portrait of WWII’s Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines – Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain forests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy, return home after V-J Day. The viewer will be immersed in combat through the intimate perspective of this diverse, relatable group of men pushed to the limit in battle both physically and psychologically against a relentless enemy unlike any encountered before. ($42.99 at Amazon.com)

Survivorman | Hand Made Fire Piston | A fire piston, sometimes called a fire syringe, is a device of ancient origin which is used to kindle fire. It uses the principle of the heating of a gas (in this case air) by its rapid compression to ignite a piece of tinder, which is then used to set light to kindling.  Jordon and Mark enjoy learning different fire making methods at the lake (which often fail and they default to matches). $80 from Les Stroud Productions.

Snowshoes and Solitude :: We are a big fan of the show Survivorman around the house but one of the questions I always have is how we he do if his isolation lasted longer than 7 days.  According to some friends who have seen the DVD, Snowshoes and Solitude goes a long way in answering that question and I am told it is worth watching and owning.  $19.99 from Les Stroud Productions

Sportcraft Taverner Bristle Dartboard | A tournament-quality, 18 inch bristle dartboard with traditional colors, a matte finish, steel wiring on the inside. Deluxe hinges complete the look of this stylish, entertaining wall piece.  It would look great hanging up at the cabin.  The best part about darts is that you don’t really have to be that great at it to have a great time playing it.

Kodak Zi8 or Kodak Playsport video camera | Jordon owns a Kodak Zi8 camera and we love it.  It has a microphone jack which means that you can easily add an external 1/8 microphone for even better sound.    It allows you to record High Definition video (1080p at 30 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio) and comes with some half-decent editing software. Zi8 is $119 from Amazon while the Playsport is $114 from Amazon.

Some recommended accessories for the Zi8

  • Shoe mount compatible with all pro & consumer video camcorders
  • Patent pending interlocking design
  • 600 lumens with built-in diffuser
  • Slim lightweight design
  • Safe to touch-does not get hot  $29 from Amazon

Adorama Heavy Duty L-bracket with 2 Standard Flash Shoe Mounts | Jordon has one of these and mounts either a miniature shotgun microphone and/or a video light on it.  For $9.99 from Amazon it’s a great addition to any one’s camera bag.  $9.99 for Amazon

Olympus PEN E-P1 12.3 MP Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens | The E-P1 is, essentially, an Olympus E-620 crowbarred into a compact, rangefinder-style body. Aside from the changes necessitated by the removal of the mirror and optical viewfinder – and a slight firmware upgrade (for new live view features, improved image processing) it is as fully fledged as any mid-range SLR but in a much more compact body.  $599 from Amazon

If you aren’t looking for a DSLR but want more control than a compact point and shoot, check out the Fujifilm s2000HD with 15x zoom.   After agonizing over which camera to purchase last year, Jordon bought one of these after reading countless reviews.

The FinePix S2000HD is a compact and lightweight 10-megapixel camera with a 15x optical zoom lens and HD movie recording/output. The FinePix S2000HD is the first Fujifilm model to offer full compatibility with HDTV systems for both stills and movies. In addition to true HD movies (at 1280 x 720 pixels) and widescreen stills (at 1920 x 1080), the FinePix S2000HD’s HD output allows the camera to display ultra-clear high-definition photographs and movies on an HDTV.  Other key S2000HD features include continuous shooting up to 13.5 frames per second at 3MP, Dual Image Stabilization for blur-free images, and extensive photographic control including 13 scene position settings.

While L.L. Bean doesn’t offer these in Canada, if they did, we would be getting one for the cabin.  It’s a customized accent for your home or cottage, displaying the name of any US city or town, its state and its latitude and longitude. All you have to do is specify city/town and state, and they will be printed on the sign, along with the city’s coordinates.   It accommodates up to 14 characters, including spaces, for the town name and up to 14 for the state. Pine base. Indoor or outdoor use, sheltered location recommended. $29.95 from L.L. Bean

Ballpark Pens | If your husband is a fan of sports history like Jordon is, you will want to check out these great handmade pens made out of wood from historic stadiums like Yankee Stadium ($200), Fenway Park ($220), the Polo Grounds ($260 and I had to ask where it was), or Boston Garden ($140).

Maine Guide Rolling Duffle, Waxed-Canvas from L.L. Bean | Jordon hates cheap luggage.  It has no character, it doesn’t wear well and in the end it’s a waste of money.  If your loved one travels at all, you may want to consider a luggage upgrade and L.L. Bean has a great option.  Weather resistant, rugged and classic, this bag is made to go the distance, year after year, gaining character along the way. Crafted from rugged 22 oz. waxed-cotton canvas, a traditional and dependable favourite of sportsmen for generations. Leather trim and antiqued-brass hardware.  This convenient duffle is easy to pack and even easier to transport. It opens wide like a doctor’s bag for neat and organized packing. Interior straps and mesh pockets help secure gear. Twin front cargo pockets hold cell phone, keys and last-minute extras. Back document pocket keeps itinerary close at hand. Smooth-Glide in-line skate wheels and locking telescoping handle let you maneuver this bag easily through airports, lobbies and parking lots. End handles for easy lifting.  Available at L.L. Bean for $199

Kenton Sorenson Leather Natural Leather Dopp Kit | The Kenton Sorenson dopp kit is the perfect holiday gift. This dopp kit is hand made in Wisconsin using natural leather that will develop an amazing deep golden brown color with regular use. The kit has a simple leather wrap around tie closure that can also be used to keep the kit open while in use. $145 from Context

Jordon is a fan of fine watches and while some of them are totally unaffordable, this Paris Mechanical Pocket Watch from Charles Hubert is fantastic looking.  It’s a sleek, silver-tone update of a classic style which combines 17-jewel mechanical movement with a skeleton dial.  If you are shopping for a someone that appreciates a fine watch, this may be a great gift at an affordable price. It also comes with a fine gift box. $84 from Amazon

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Refresh

I don’t take a lot of vacation days.  Part of it is the nature of work… about the time I want time off, we are often short staffed.  The bigger issue is me.  I don’t enjoy vacations very much and it’s something that I have worked on more as I have gotten older.

This week Mark and I are up at the lake for a couple of days of male bonding before Wendy comes up this weekend with Oliver.  The weather has been hot but I don’t have a huge to do list.  Well I had a big to do list but I was reminded this summer but a friend of ours that he spent so much time finishing their family cabin, he didn’t enjoy it as much has he should have.  So Mark and I have cooked meals over an open fire, taken Maggi swimming a lot, and hung out reading.

Sergio: One Man's Fight to Save the World So far this week I have read Samantha Power’s captivating book, Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World about Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations diplomat who was described as being a cross between James Bond and Bobby Kennedy.  His resume took him from Bangladesh to East Timor to eventually Iraq (where he was killed) in his attempts to bring about peace, alleviate human suffering, and bring hope and security to those that have none. 

What struck me as I read it is he was a flawed man (terrible womanizer), who made big compromises and mistakes (befriending more than one person accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in his attempt to bring about peace), yet consistently learned from them and adapted to new challenges.  I was contrasting him to what I had been taught about leadership which says that it requires perfect character and looks down on compromise and has people scorning or ignoring their enemies.   There is also the aspect of how contextual what we have learned really is.  What works well in one situation won’t work well in another situation.

Finally, this is shown by Sergio Vleira de Mello’s life and Samantha Power’s worldview and writing but the world’s problems require nuance, understanding of complex factors, and a wider view of context than is often given (MacNamara’s description of the misunderstanding of the nature of the Vietnam War comes to mind as an overly narrow understanding of a conflict).

Now back to the vacation.  Mark was engrossed by The Hardy Boys and is looking forward to a late night session of playing his PSP.  We tried to go swimming today but the algae was so gross that Maggi is a bright green shade right now, despite having given her a shower (it was as bad as it sounds).

No one really cares that much…

Mike Todd is talking about the western church and the western world.  He quotes Bono speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative talking about the $700 billion bailout.

"It is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion to save 25,000 children who die every day of preventable treatable disease and hunger. That’s mad, that is mad."

url The polls show that the majority of westerners don’t care enough about those 25,000 kids to do much more than wear a white ribbon and watch a concert for a day.  Despite what Make Poverty History says, I think it failed miserably and despite the e-mails and web banners, third world poverty or even poverty in Canada was not on the radar for the recent federal election and while Barack Obama has an innovative plan to deal with third world poverty, it isn’t really a big election issue with those of you south of the border (the word poverty was not mentioned during the Presidential debates) either.

I don’t think that is going to change.  In 2005 a white bracelet was cool.  There was a big concert and depending on where you were, pretty good bands (Canada’s was awful).  Then it was done.  People took off their wristbands and went back to their lives.  I am sure they think about it every once in a while but not enough to show up on a poll as something we care about and definitely not something we care about more than our own interests.

History repeated itself in Canada as the environment was a huge topic.  Then John Baird was named minister, came up with a pamphlet (I sent away for the plan and there was nothing to it) that passed the buck to another government long after he was retired and we all sighed and was relieved that we had done something about global warming.  Stephane Dion looked at this and to his credit tried to do something about it.

Carbon tax means western separation.  Bring it on Dion.This was the response in some parts of the country.

Now Dion’s Green Shift had problems but the attack that seemed to work on it was that this would mean higher taxes or lost jobs in industries that produce dirty energy and Canadians bought it.  In other words we care about climate change as long as I don’t have to do anything to change. 

When I was watching The War by Ken Burns.  Somewhere leading up to the Battle of the Bulge he mentions that support for the war was losing support at home.  That kind of shocked me.  So much for a day that will live in Infamy.  People believed in the war in 1941 but in 1944 they were tired of it.  Tired of the rationing, tired of the letters, tired of the news.  While we have seen this in many countries over many conflicts but there is a big difference between what people say they value and what they are willing to sacrifice to achieve it.  For most of the western world, we aren’t willing to sacrifice very much.

Bono If it is now unreasonable to pay $1000 down to get a car loan, or unreasonable to have capital to cover one’s losses, or even unreasonable to think that you would have to pay off a mortgage (why pay when you can refinance?), why should a government make any effort to look out for anything other than their own self interests either?  The famous Irish based band U2 moved their incorporation to the Netherlands to avoid paying more taxes to Ireland (you know those things that go into government coffers so they can write checks to other countries).  Good thing that their lead singer isn’t calling for governments to give more in foreign aid or this move may have been seen as hypocritical.  Oh right, never mind then.  My point is that if we are not willing to sacrifice, why should we expect others to for us?

I don’t know what changed.  During the Armenian Genocide (there goes the Turkish readers of my blog) the western church chartered all sorts of ocean liners to pick up refugees and bring them to North America (for more read Samantha Power’s amazing book, A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide).  Tales of large scale help after that are pretty hard to find even though the genocides and ethnic cleansing picked up the pace.   Now instead of my responsibility, it is the government’s responsibility.  I am not sure what changed.  Some Canadian conservative columnists like to blame Pierre Trudeau and the idea of big government but I don’t buy that.  It was probably a combination of a bunch of things; Urbanization broke down community ties, the decline of the church and the community around that, the economic boom of the 1950s created a new American dream that the western world embraced, and a more mobile culture.  In some ways complaining about government is all we had in common.  Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone deals with the issue on a deeper level than I can here.

Whatever the reason, it is something that we have to face.  I was going to say “face it together” but that isn’t true either.  25,000 kids dying each day doesn’t register on a lot of radar screens anymore.  For those that do have it register, it is going to up to us to make a difference and it is going to have to cost us.

Growing up in the church, the only time I have ever been asked to sacrifice is when the church wanted something – a new building, more staff, or was in trouble financially.  We can blog about “costly grace” but for most of it, it has been pretty cheap.  I have quoted Ron Sider here a lot before but when the church is totally self interested, at least we blend in well.

If we are going to make a difference, it is going to cost us in real terms.  Maybe giving up upgrading our MacBooks, passing on a smart phone and other gadgets, taking in less conferences, or maybe downscaling some other things in life to invest in something that resembles more Kingdom values.   I guess the question is, are we willing to sacrifice for anyone else in this life other than for ourselves?  If we aren’t willing, history has shown us that no one else is either.