The Christmas Wish List

The holiday season is upon us. Something we do each year is come up with a list of cool things (toys) we’d like for Christmas, or needful things (socks and underwear). There’s the small stuff that we’re likely to get some of, and bigger-ticket items that we can dream about. And, of course, season’s greetings make us feel good and fit anyone’s budget. So think of the following as the not-quite-grown-up version of a long letter to Santa.

For everyone who thinks, with justification, that even with the recession on there are needier people around, please consider helping out Amnesty International… the donation link is in the right sidebar here. If you would like to encourage me to do the sort of stuff I do to help out science education, contributions to my PayPal donate button, also on the right, will help me worry less about getting the money to cover the costs of Internet service, web hosting, and, when it gets right down to it, rent, gas, and groceries. If you like the idea of seeing a specific wish-list, either with the thought that you might drop something on Diane or I, or get an idea for a significant other or family member, read on.

Small stuff

A recurring need we have is for digital storage of various sorts.

SD or Micro SD cards, 1 GB or larger. We’ve got cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, and MP3 players that can always use more memory.
2GB w/USB reader, $6.15
(2) 2GB w/SD adapter, $7.99

SD/MMC to Compact Flash adapter, Amazon.com, $18.16. Some of the digital gear uses Compact Flash, and this adapter will work for the Nikon and the Axim PDA. Most gear seems to be headed toward use of smaller media, like the SD, though, so if we get SD media and adapters, we should be set for future uses of the media.

The bane of my childhood Christmas mornings was getting socks… it just seemed wrong that socks might take up space under the Christmas tree that could have been something cool. Well, having something warm on the feet now seems cool. I basically do black Gold Toe Fluffy when possible for dress occasions, and white sport or winter socks otherwise, sized to fit men’s size 13. I’ll spare y’all my underwear choices.

Dog toys… both Ritka and Beka are far harder on toys than Farli ever was. Tug toys, squeak toys, balls, etc., they are all good. The more play time they can manage between them, the better.

Six Toughtek 9000 Booties XS (extra small) for Ritka, 2 1/4″ across the widest part, 5″ tall. Ritka has the usual four legs for a dog, but booties are notorious for getting lost, so six seems like a good initial set. They are $2.50 each.

Medium stuff

Diane would like some sweater vests, women’s medium size. These come in handy for a warmer experience lecturing while keeping that professional look.

Speaking of the PDA, a software accessory would help make my Axim PDA pretty complete. It’s ClearVue Suite, a package that permits creation, editing, and presentation of PowerPoint files. And it’s $30. When I got the PDA, the base didn’t actually charge it, so I got a cable that allows for power, USB, and VGA out connections. Adding the ClearVue software would give me a small system for portable presentations.

This year has been rough on keyboards. The fact that our budget has kept our purchases of computer gear to a minimum means that our newest keyboard is now about five years old. Diane’s has stiff keys, an incipient sign of a problem. Something to would be really useful to keep down the number of keyboards we need would be a KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) switcher. Our living room has four desktops in it, so a KVM would help.

A Kibble Nibble food dispenser for Beka, about $20.00.

A Masterpiece Component Bed for our 300 Vari-Kennel crate, about $73.

A ChaseIt toy system. We’re thinking that this should make a good toy for Rusty and Shelby, especially after hunting season closes next March. It’s $22.50.

Bigger stuff

Again with the digital media…
Western Digital 1 terabyte SATA hard disk, $99.99. This would plug into our server and increase room for the photos and media files.

Bigger hard disks for our laptops would always be welcome. Newegg has decent prices on 250 GB ($80) laptop drives in ATA-6 format.

We recently put together a system to feed video from the hawk’s mews inside, so we can have a look inside pretty much whenever we want to. We managed to get the camera and wireless transmitter and receiver pretty cheaply, going for a used wireless system and a new but inexpensive camera designed as a vehicle back-up camera with a very wide-angle lens. The next step would be to equip a machine with some sort of video capture card so that we can periodically push an image to the server and be able to monitor the hawks wherever we can get an Internet connection. While there are some cheap video cards out there, we’re thinking that being able to use the card for a media center would be good, too. B&H Photo has the Hauppage PVR 350 card used for $100. This is a card known to work under Windows and also with the Linux MythTV system.

Garmin Astro 220 Receiver and DC30 GPS Dog Collar, about $600.00. This would help keep track of Ritka where cover might prevent us from seeing her, especially when she goes on point.

A Deben Long Range Terrier Finder for Beka, about $330. Between the two, the GPS system for Ritka is probably the higher priority.

It’s an unfortunate fact that telemetry gear doesn’t last forever. We could use another 30-day version of the RT Plus transmitter or two to make sure we can keep track of the hawks in the field.

A 4×6″ photo printer could come in handy for dog events and being able to print right at the site. It looks like this Epson PictureMate Dash PM260 Compact Photo Inkjet Printer fits the bill.

On the audio side of things, I’m still interested in the M-Audio Microtrack II digital audio recorder. The price has come down, but it’s still about $240.

Venturing further into FantasyLand, I think that I’ll be drooling over the idea of having a Nikon D3 or Nikon D3x for a long time, but maybe a Nikon SB-900 or Nikon SB-800 flash might show up before Nikon announces their D5 camera. I’ve got good glass from 12mm with the Sigma 12-24mm lens and out to 200mm with the Nikkor 70-200mm VR lens, but having a longer lens on hand would be a good thing.

And the best holiday news I can think of would be if somebody would buy the 190 acres or so seen here for me. I spent a chunk of my time growing up wandering around that land and the set of small lakes on it. It’s in Lakeland, Florida, in the Combee area, and is zoned “industrial”. It lies south of Main Street and west of Reynolds Road there, extending over half the distance to Combee Road to the west. There’s a golf course and housing to the south and southeast, and various businesses to the west and north of the property. It is an area of reclaimed phosphate mining land, and has bloomed into a bunch of central Florida style meadow land. I don’t know of anybody prepared to drop several million on me, though. I’d like to see it sold to someone who would appreciate it at the least, even if I don’t get to wander there in the future.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.