Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Wish List

When I was a boy I used to make up detailed lists of what I wanted for Christmas. I'd spend time poring through the Sears and JC Penny's catalogs detailing out the perfect gifts. I usually got something off my list but I think the dreaming and planning were more fun than actually getting the gift. Somewhere along the path to adulthood the presents became less important to me and I stopped making out a list. Now I ask friends not to give me anything. I've got more than enough. A little peck on the cheek under the mistletoe and maybe time spent singing a few songs seem to mean more to me now.

But, I still like looking through all the catalogs that come through the mail. There are sure a lot more than there were back then. And the internet! It's just one big old Sears catalog for a slightly balding boy like me. I still like to wish a little. Here is what my list would look like now.

I taught a Middle School Technology lab for seven years and I have to say one of the best stations we had in the lab was one built around Mindstorms. Even taking away the programmable brick, I would still want a module overflowing with Lego parts and pieces if I were ever to have a tech lab again. I miss sneaking in to build killer robots when the kids were gone for the day. I have this dream of one day clearing a space out in my basement and setting up a bench where I can build my creations and not have to share my toys with any pesky students.

Patrick Costello and his father Pat are creating some banjos out on the Delmarva peninsula that have me wanting to cheat on my Goodtime Deering. She is still a good banjo and meets my needs just fine. But, Dang! Those Somerset instruments call to me like banjo bottomed mermaids twanging on the heartstrings of lonely sailors. All American made. Hand crafted. And a sound, that best as I can tell over a YouTube video is great. I've thought about driving down to the Eastern Shore next time I'm out visiting my sister in Maryland to try one out. I fear if I do that, I will be a goner and won't be able to resist the temptation. Until then, it's up to Santa. He can decide if a pretty much full grown man really needs two banjos.

3. iMac

I'm ready for a new computer. I'm always ready for a new, faster shiny computer, and I've got my eye on a iMac. I am anxious to try out the dual boot capabilities with the new models and to get one of those 20 inch screens on my desk. I'd add a second monitor just to make working with my Adobe programs a little easier. You haven't lived until you can put your workspace on one screen and all your menus and palettes on another. It's pure Geek Heaven. A double screen also makes it so much simpler when I'm grading a student project by having their work open on the main screen and my rubric on another.

Did you hear that honey? A new computer would make my job so much easier and it would be so much more functional than a new couch. We don't need to sit.

I work with Adobe products every day in my classes at school. I use at least one of their programs during my off hours in my planning and prep. I have Photoshop and Dreamweaver at home but I'm tired of not being able to work or take on personal projects in the comfort of my house while sipping tepid coffee and wearing my Winnie-the-Pooh jammies. The Master Collection includes pretty much every major Adobe Product:
  • Photoshop
  • Premiere
  • InDesign
  • Illustrator
  • Flash
  • Dreamweaver
  • Fireworks
  • Contribute
  • After Effects
  • Soundbooth
  • Encore
I could do everything I do at school plus a bit more with this software package. It would be swell if Santa tossed this cornucopia of productivity down my chimney this year.

5. Kangoo

I love to run but haven't been able to for several years because of nagging knee and back problems. I miss it. I saw these cool running boots a year or so ago. They drastically reduce the impact on your knees and feet by as much as 70%. I would once again be able to burst out of my front door on a spring morning and run through the streets of my neighborhood. My bottom half would resemble that of the Primus Transformer and I would probably frighten small children and send dogs running with tails between their legs. But, it would be worth it to run again.

They cost several hundred bucks and I'm the kind of guy who has a hard time paying more than a dollar for a cup of coffee. So, I put this idea away thinking I might revisit the concept if the price ever went down or I could find a place locally to try them out before committing to the hefty price. After all, I could get a Mindstorm's kit for that kind of money.

Recently I read a post by Doug Kelsey who writes the blog, The View. He has a pair and likes them. He bought his on eBay. I looked and sure enough, I can probably pick up a pair for $50 or less. If it's meant to be, a pair in size 11 will soon pop up and I will put my bid in. Otherwise, they will stay on my wish list.

So, that's the list. Do I really want all this stuff under the tree for Christmas. Not really. I just like the dreaming. Like I said a few pecks on the cheek and good friends are all I really want.

Now, excuse me while I go looking for a little mistletoe.

[Image: "Bus Santa": Photo by Al Gunn: Creative Commons: My brother-in-law is a bus driver and used to dress up like Santa on the last day before school let out]
[Image: Mindstorms robot: Captured from]
[Image: banjo: "S2-pot"; Captured from]
[Image: iMac: captured from]
[image: Kangoo: Captured from]

[Image: Captured from Adobe Site:]
Image: "Kisses for Christmas ;~))": Flickr: Creative Commons: Uploaded on December 24, 2006
by freebird4:]


  1. We'd love to have you stop by. If you can't do that, why not take part in one of the "banjo tours"?

    Give us a call and I'll get Dear Old Dad to fit you into the S-2 or S-3 tour.


  2. Thank you for the offer but I fear that if I touch one of your banjos then I will be hooked.

    You are like a small red banjo playing devil sitting on my right shoulder wearing little Archie McPhee devil horns saying, "Come on Al...just one pluck. One pluck won't get you hooked!"

    On the other shoulder is your Dear Old Dad, miniaturized of course, dressed in his finest car-salesman white suit whispering, "Such a deal. The best banjo pound for pound that you can buy. And for a short time only...we'll throw in this 'Welcome to Cheasapeake Bay" t-shirt. Patrick won't miss it!"

    It is hard on a man when both the imps and seraphins are urging him towards a new banjo. But, I also have a full sized checkbook with an Arnold Schwarzenegger grip on my finances sitting on my lap saying with a slight Austrian cadence, "Feed your musical soul or feed the children of your mortgage banker. Hasta la Vista, dinero contante!"

    So, thank you for the offer. I'll have to think about it. If I can only get all these extra voices in my head to be quiet for a bit.


    ps....painting you as the devil and your father as an angel in no way should be taken to imply that I think one of you represents the dark side and the other the light. I think you are both banjo saints! Spanish is terrible and if I accidentally just insulted Ms.Trudy's little dog, I apologize for that also. I love little dogs!