The Best & Worst Gifts this Holiday Season!!

Okay first lets start off with what not to get people this holiday season… smart devices!

With the rash of recent lawsuits regarding Smart TVs actually spying on people, you would have thought the public would have gotten the message.

What’s the message?

 

If it is not family or not paying rent, don’t let anything in your house that is smarter than you.:) That means saying ‘no thank’ you or ‘good buy’ to all these spying devices marketed as amiable servants or harmless entertainment.

That means no ECHO, no ALEXA, no XBOX, no Smart TVs. It means trading in your Roku or Amazon Fire microphone remote for a regular non-microphone remote.

 

Here is the thing… you want to know what the weather is… do the search yourself!

Same with the news, or the traffic. Do it your effing self. There is a point where convenience becomes a cage, and ease of access a trap.

Every camera in your house (laptops, phones, TVs, smart refrigerators, etc), should have a lens cap. And every microphone in your house (xbox, phones, laptops, alarm systems, smart thermostats, etc) should be able to be physically disabled/disconnected. Being able to determine yes I want this camera off, and yes I want this microphone off, and being certain that they have turned off, that is owning things. Having to trust in the hardware or the software that it is not recording you, and delivering that info to marketeers… that is being owned.

And increasingly in ‘Smart’ homes, the homeowner finds themselves in the latter category.

So yes those are the things not to buy this or any holiday season.

So what are some things worth buying? Well this installment let us discuss…

Portable DVD/CD players

The music industry is happy to get high quality physical music out of the hands of consumers, and especially the ability for them to burn their own discs; and to take us back to the 1950s in returning us to the inherently inferior medium of vinyl. And if you don’t know vinyl is inherently inferior, than you missed the previous paragraph about being smarter than the technology. 🙂

And sure we have streaming. But streaming is largely a gatekeeper format. We empower gatekeepers to store the media we pay for. That media can then be changed or deleted as commerce demands. Even deleted not just from the cloud, but from your media player.

Music thus becomes reduced to something, that though you pay for it, you do not in any substantial way control the thing you paid for. A CD (full WAV, not that MP3 nonsense)and a portable CD player, and a good pair of headphones… returns that control to you. That is what I call a priceless gift.

Here then are my recommendations for portable CD players, headphones, and great quality CDs to test out those headphones.

WONNIE 7.5 Inch Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen, USB / SD Slot and 4 Hours Rechargeable Battery, Perfect Gift for Kids ( Black ) – While marketed as a gift for kids and the aged, this is actually a great compact portable DVD/CD player that plays a variety of formats at a ridiculously low price. And comes with great extras including a carrying case.

Now while it comes with basic headphones I would recommend the following headphones and amp combo when ready to take the sound from this portable to a better level.

HIFIMAN HE-400I Over Ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones– Not cheap at around $200 but it is actually nearly 60% off of its retail price.

A slightly lower cost, but still well reviewed and lauded headphone option would be:

Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones, Semi-Open

And while not necessary, an amp will help deliver quality sound to your headphones. Get yours at the link below:

FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier (Black)

Finally here are some must own CDs for testing out your headphones and just hearing great music:

Human

Up Close

Get Up With It

Midnight Matinee (XRCD24 Master)

That’s it for this installment. Follow our suggestions and you’ll have a portable system that will offer superior sound for a fraction of the cost of other options. And if you liked this post drop me an email, subscribe, use the above links or leave me a comment. or do all of the above! 🙂

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Gift Idea/Product of the Day! LIFESAVER Systems 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle

I just watched an excellent Michael Pritchard TED Talk on making filthy water drinkable. At only ten minutes you can view it here:

As someone who has always been concerned with the quality of drinking water, and has over several years tried various remedies to ensure clean water, the talk was of definite interest to me.

Especially as I see more and more companies pressure nations and communities to privatize their water infrastructure; I think water, clean drinkable non-contaminated or tinkered with for taste water (Dasani I’m looking at you)… is going to increasingly not be guaranteed. Water, in this ‘tail wags Dog’ America and World, Is going to start being a luxury item you have to pay for, rather than a basic necessity that should be freely available and provided.  And those who can’t pay for clean, non contaminated water, will not get clean contaminated water.

A Trumpian Dystopian Orwellian future, made ever less far-fetched as the more passionate among us do nothing, while the venal and greedy and ignorant among us, shout loudly.

Michael Pritchard is one who did not stay quietly on the sidelines, turning his outrage on tragedies of nature, and failures of governments and men, such as Katrina… into action.

In this case a portable water filtration system called LIFESAVER that checks a lot of the boxes, that others miss.

  • One it requires no external power source.
  • Two it is designed to catch just about everything, rather than just a few, and
  • Third and most importantly, and the one that most water filters fail on… it shuts the water filter off when it has reached the point of failure.

A water filter is only as good as that point of failure, and a system that lets you know when you have reached that point of replacement is indispensable.

In my house I use the zero pitcher, for this very reason. It’s a quick and easy test you can run on every glass of water, and when the meter hits that number of 006 TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) you know it is time to replace that filter.

LIFESAVER offers a similar level of confidence, where it matters even more… when you are on the go; away from your house. And I don’t just mean camping, I mean anyplace outside your home where you need to get a drink of water, whether that be the water cooler at your job, a public fountain, or a friends house.

I work for a billion dollar company, in a fantastic high rise in the middle of a major city, and way too often the water out of the tap, for the whole building… comes out brown. That is just not acceptable. And yes the company has mounted water filters, but are the filters getting changed as they should be? When the municipality of a so-called 1st World Nation can’t provide its citizens clean drinking water from the tap (or don’t prioritize such water), you begin to question the capability of every part of that chain.

We have this delusion in America, like so many delusions that allowed otherwise sane people to actually cast a ballot for Trump, we have a delusion that water quality is a third world problem. When the truth is, through the greed of billionaires, America is quickly becoming a third world nation. The problems of Mexico, and Sudan, and Kosovo, and Nigeria and India… these are quickly going to become American problems. Because we are allowing slavers and Robber Barons to make policy, that inevitably is designed to make the few masters and the many slaves.

Some of that you can combat through legislation, though voting, through boycotting, and some of it you combat by taking an active role, in making sure the basic necessities of life… clean water… in a pinch you can provide for yourself.

That is where the LIFESAVER System comes in. Its company grade is an A, and its Amazon Reviews have been vetted and are accurate (A lot of times they are not, don’t just assume a company with 4 or 5 stars on Amazon is a slam dunk of a product. Unfortunately unscrupulous companies use robots to pad their page with tons of fake 5 star reviews.)

You want to vet the company and vet the reviews, to see if the company is legit and the reviews are legit. There are various sites that will do this for you. I’ve checked the most reputable ones, and LIFESAVER as a company is an A, and its Amazon reviews get an A for being accurate, and non robot generated.

All this to say, this is the gift giving season, Dickens’ sweet story of a carol at Christmas, has been turned by savvy businessmen into a retailers dream, the need to purchase and buy, affecting all during this time of year, more like a fever, than anything to do with faith.

A compulsion.

Whether Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Vodun or Festivus you celebrate; we are all swept up in the compulsion to spend. All to some point swayed by the marketing push and Black Friday sales, or Amazon Monday sales.

But perhaps we can do better than the usual suspects of gifts. While the kids want (and deserve) their toys, for the adults give them the LIFESAVER. It lives up to its name. It is something that should be in each car you own, for emergencies, and one in the house as a backup filtration system. Essential for any bug-out bag.

And the lifesaver while impressive, no product should be considered an end all and be all. I would recommend having a UV pen water sterilizer as well. It is just a good one-two punch to get in the habit of doing. Especially as your filter gets close to its end of life.

Is it overkill? Probably. But considering it only takes seconds more to UV your drink after filtering, it is probably just a good routine to get into. But even without the UV step, I consider the LIFESAVER absolutely an indispensable purchase in 2017 and beyond, and a fantastic gift.

Get yours here:

LIFESAVER Systems 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle

You are going to also need to have replacement filters on hand (In the words of Nick Nolte, from EXTREME PREJUDICE [one of my favorite movies, and easily his most iconic role] ‘One without the other, ain’t no damn good.’)

Lifesaver Bottle Ultra Filtration Water Bottle Replacement Carbon Inserts (4-pk)
And here’s the recommended UV pen:

SteriPEN Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier

And here’s the pitcher for your kitchen (and you could also use an additional one for your bathroom or just go with an on tap unit for your bathroom faucet):

ZeroWater 23 Cup Dispenser with Free TDS Meter (Total Dissolved Solids) – ZD-018

Or more convenient for your bathroom would be a on-faucet filter, that also offers a end of life replacement light, which would be the below:

PUR 3-Stage Horizontal Water Filtration Faucet Mount Chrome FM-9400B

So that’s it guys. When I started this blog, far more than a decade ago, one of my early concerns was water quality. I had tried distillers, table top water filters, and tons of options in between.

And all of that research has brought me to the recommendations above. You want to give a gift this holiday season, give the gift of clean water.

It is… a start.

Use the links above and help this blog earn a few pennies with your purchases.

Enjoy!

 

GREAT Last minute / END OF YEAR GIFT IDEAS! Day 2 of 15! CANDLES!

GREAT GIFT IDEAS for the Homemaker or Survivalist Among you!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31LwP3ZJyxL.jpg

 

7-Day Beeswax Candle

 

7-Day Beeswax Candle

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71oMAQS6nGL._SX522_.jpg

Puracy Natural Liquid Dish Soap, Sulfate Free Dishwashing Detergent, Green Tea and Lime, 16 Ounce Bottle, (Pack of 3)
Puracy Natural Liquid Dish Soap, Sulfate Free Dishwashing Detergent, Green Tea and Lime, 16 Ounce Bottle, (Pack of 3)

 

TriWick 120 Hour Candle & Camping Stove – Survival & Emergency Light Source

TriWick 120 Hour Candle & Camping Stove – Survival & Emergency Light Source

 

Volcanica Candles Dendritic Pillar Candle, Medium, Maroon/Gold

 

Volcanica Candles Flora Vase Candle, Creme

 

Candle by the Hour 120-Hour Beehive Candle, Eco-friendly Natural Beeswax with Cotton Wick

GREAT Last minute / END OF YEAR GIFT IDEAS! Day 1 of 15!

Whatever Holiday you or yours are gearing up to celebrate, be it Ramadan, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Vodun or the Mass of Christ, chances are you are swept up in the very American magnate propagated desire to buy things, and an older, more selfless desire to give stuff.

Here without further ado are some GREAT last minute gift ideas!

 

KIDS UNDER 15 (And fun for their parents too)

Carrera GO!!! – GT Contest Track Set

 

GIFTS FOR THE HOROLOGIST (CLOCK LOVER) OR TO IMPRESS A BOSS OR FAMILY FRIEND

Vivid Large Deer Handcrafted Wood Cuckoo Clock CC105

 

 

GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR YOUR COWORKERS or CRYSTAL LOVERS!

 

Amlong Crystal Globe on Crystal Stand with Gift Box – 4.75 Inch

 

GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR THE GRAPHIC NOVEL/COMIC BOOK FAN or WEREWOLF FAN!

 

Werewolf by Night Omnibus

FOR THE ART BOOK LOVER /COFFEE TABLE FAN!

 

The Art of Jock

 

Cover Image

The Signature Art Of Brian Stelfreeze

 

Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

 

 
Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour

Holiday Gift Guide: The Essential Bernie Wrightson & Gustave Dore


In an America governed by those who would bury art and bury reason and bury beauty, I think the gift of Art, this holiday season, is more priceless than ever.

Here for your gift giving consideration are some of my favorite art books.

 

 

 

Doré’s Illustrations for Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”: A Selection of 208 Illustrations (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)

Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

The three Books have a common theme… linework. In DORE’S ILLUSTRATIONS FOR ARIOSTO’S ORLANDO FURIOSO it showcases the line work of Gustave Dore, the undisputed 19th century master of the medium.

In Dark Horse Book’s Illustrated FRANKENSTEIN, the 20th century master of line work, Bernie Wrightson provides jaw dropping quintessential illustrations to Mary Shelley’s seminal work of Horror and Science Fiction. And finally CREEPY PRESENTS BERNIE WRIGHTSON is likewise an indispensable overview of the master of pen and ink.

The three together are a welcome addition to any art lovers library!

Happy 20 April 2014!

Well Happy Holiday or non-Holiday to all my followers and random surfers!!

Hope you guys are having a stellar weekend so far, and a stellar Sunday to close it out!

I thought I would mention a few items, beyond the obvious, that occurred on this day that I found interesting:

1775 – British begin siege of Boston
1792 – France declares war on Austria, Prussia & Sardinia
1799 – Napoleon issues a decree calling for establishing Jerusalem for Jews
1828 – René Caillié is first non-Muslim to enter Timbouctou.
1841 – 1st detective story (Edgar Allen Poe’s “Murders in Rue Morgue”) published
1862 – The first pasteurization test completed by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard.
1888 – 246 reported killed by hail in Moradabad, India
1894 – 136,000 mine workers strike in Ohio for pay increase
1896 – 1st public film showing in US John Philip Sousa’s “El Capitan” premieres in NYC
1902 – Marie & Pierre Curie isolate the radioactive element radium chloride
1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims marking his final victories before his death the following day.
1920 – Tornadoes kill 219 in Alabama & Mississippi
1941 – 100 German bombers attack Athens
1944 – Dutch Communist Party resistance fighter John Postma sentence to death
1945 – Soviet troops enter Berlin
1963 – All Africa Conferences of Churches opens in Kampala Uganda
1964 – 86% of Black students boycott Cleveland schools
1965 – People’s Republic China offers North Vietnam military aid
1967 – US Surveyor 3 lands on Moon
1968 – English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood speech
1986 – Michael Jordan sets NBA playoff record with 63 points in a game
1987 – US deports Karl Linnas to USSR, charged with Nazi war crimes
1988 – US accuses Renamo of killing 100,000 Mozambiquians
1998 – German terrorist group Red Army Faction announces their dissolution after 28 years
1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School located in Jefferson County, Colorado
2004 – In Iraq, 12 mortars are fired on Abu Ghraib Prison by insurgents, killing 22 detainees and wounding 92
2007 – Johnson Space Center Shooting: A man with a handgun barricades himself in NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas before killing a male hostage and himself
2008 – Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver in history to win an Indy car race
2010 – Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion kills 11 and causes rig to sink, initiating a massive oil discharge in the Gulf of Mexico
2013 – 193 people are killed and 11,826 are injured after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes Lushan County, China

These statistics courtesy of History Orb.