073: 2013 Gift Guide – Pt. 1

by howmanybeards

Well hello there fine chaps! It seems it is that fine time of year again when we all start gearing up for the holidays. The parties are planned and scheduled, good times are shared, and goodfaith compromises are made on how much weight gain is acceptable between Thanksgiving and Jan 2nd. For most people it’s also a time of exchanging gifts, and in case any of you are looking for a little inspiration we’re here to prep you before you find yourself wandering the mall on Dec 17th in a spiked-eggnog fueled daze with no idea what to get anyone except your self. Also, don’t forget my birthday falls conveniently halfway between now and the old 25th of December so anything you want to pop in the mail is up to you. Follow the jump to see what’s in store.

1. Fight Those Movember Blues

So, for whatever reason society has decided to celebrate the one thing everyone agrees doesn’t look good on a man: a mustache. We dislike it so much that we actually dare one another to grow one in order to raise money and awareness for Men’s health, particularly cancers specific to men. On top of that, I think we all know beards are in. My current favorite graffiti in my fine city was a sticker that read “Fat guys in glasses are everywhere.” So if you know or are a man whose beard or mustache has gone wild let me steer you towards two suggestions.

  • The first is for those who need to discard that silly upper lip warmer. Or for anyone who needs a shave. Somehow Big Razor has convinced us that we need as many blades as possible. I eschew this theory and contend that a single blade provides the closest shave possible. Now many of you may be immediately jumping to a straight razor in your head. That is not what I am advocating. The thought of dragging one of those throat slicers along my neck while I’m still half blinded by sleep is terrifying. That’s why I advocate the Safety Razor. It functions similarly to the Bics and Gilettes we are all used to, but has a single disposable blade that only costs $10 for 100 refills as opposed to $20 for 4 refills. I recommend paying the few extra dollars (read ~$30) for a piece of quality German steel such as the Merkur 180.


  • The second is for those looking to bring their beard in from the wild and transition it into something a little more pliable for everyday life. For those I recommend not only at least weekly trimmings but also adding a beard oil to the mix. The beard oil serves three purposes. The first is to help control your beard by keeping those stray flyaway strands more closely matted. The second and more important is that it’s almost like a conditioner for your beard. It helps the hair stay strong and works on the skin as well to help prevent irritation. The third is that it takes the place of a cologne or aftershave, and tends to stick around longer than either of them. I personally recommend a little operation I found called Dream Beard. Hand crafted by an endeavoring young man from Atlanta. They offer 3 great scents, but I’d say try out the Sampler pack first to see which one works best for you before jumping in feet first on a whole bottle

dream beard

2. Be Punctual.

You know what’s cooler than being cool? Being on time. And being on time requires a means to tell time. Now sure, we all have our cellular devices but nothing makes you look like more of an asshat than having to drag out your cellphone every time someone wants to know what time it is. It’s also a lot less obvious to sneak a quick glance at your wrist watch than your phone. For me, growing up I thought there were really only two options when it came to watches: cheap plastic sport watches and super expensive finely tuned watches such as Rolex, IWC, etc. Luckily that is no longer the case. So I’ve discerned both a high and a low option.

  • The high option isn’t even really that high when compared to the thousands one might indecently spend on a new Rolex Submariner but we’ll continue to call it high. For this I point you to a newly started brand called Shinola that is doing everything right. Based in Detroit and making all of their products right here in the USA. They’re making a big splash with their watches, and all of them look great. But I find the Runwell 47mm on a brown leather band to be my favorite. These bad boys clock in at right around $550, but knowing what you’re getting and how good it looks almost makes it seem like you’re stealing.
  • Now, if $550 is outside your price range then maybe something in the $85 range is more your speed. The low option brings us to a lone wolf right here in Florida called formfunctionform. He is re-purposing brand new classic Timex watch faces and putting them on hand cut, original design leather bands which brings new life to a classic look. The leathers are available in an array of colors I didn’t even know leather came. The faces are available in a few other options as well. The White Face Weekender on natural horween is my pick.

3. Enjoy Your Sundays.

Truth be told, I used to hate Sundays through the better part of high school, college, and post-college. Probably had something to do with an always impending sense of the coming week coupled with a general lack of activity after a Friday and Saturday of heavy lifting. But over the last few years I’ve come to savor the lazy hours of Sunday, the way time seems to slow down in the deepest parts of the afternoon. I like to savor this time with a well crafted brew and some choice reading material. Now I could go on ad nauseam about which beer to drink, so I’ll limit myself to a few recommendations about what to read. It seems almost everyday that we hear or see something to reinforce the idea that print is dying. I see it as a kind of “Print is dead! Long live Print!” kind of situation. If anything technology has given me a thirst for the tactile feed back of a book, newspaper, or magazine. This also feeds into something we all need to cater to which is purposefully disconnecting ourselves periodically. Is that a pun?

  • Option one is simple. Get a subscription to your local newspaper. A team of my friends banded together last year and got me a whole year subscription, and it will probably long stand as one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. I love sitting down and dissecting out the pieces I want to read, Sports, Travel, Perspective, and the most prized possession, the Sunday Crossword. In addition your helping your local economy by keeping an institution up and running that probably employs more people than you may know.
  • Number two is a little heftier in both cost and materiel. Let me introduce you to my friend Monocle. Monocle is possibly one of the thickest, regularly published magazines I have ever come across. It was introduced to me about a year ago through the internet, and I only recently got around to picking up an issue. However, this periodical has given me new faith in magazines. Each issue tackles a general issue, but also covers news and items of interest from around the world on all sorts of things I would’ve never imagined I might be interested in. So, stop by your local book retailer and browse through one. Also, don’t be scared by the price tag. There is more than enough reading materiel in each issue to make it worth your money.


4. Must Love Coffee.

Coffee is a lovely thing. If you don’t agree then you can just get out right now. I take mine in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. Except for Conference Coffee. There’s nothing worse than Conference Coffee. But if you have a true coffee lover in your life than boy do I have the toy for you. The Bonaverde not only does all the usual tricks of grinding and brewing even on a timer so you don’t have to fuss with it in the morning before getting in the shower. But above all that, in pursuit of the true coffee purist it will also freshly roast your fair-trade organic beans to perfection  each morning. The company will also help you buy small batches of fresh unroasted beans from said fair-trade organic farmers.

5. Move Your Brew.

From one brewed beverage to another, eh? With the craft beer revolution so far underway these days I don’t think it’s even fair to call it a revolution anymore. So it’s the Craft Beer Institution now. One of the greatest offshoots of the Institution is that so many of these breweries are constantly brewing up small, limited edition one offs or infused versions of their already popular beers. However, most of the time these are only available in growlers. Sadly, growler technology hasn’t kept pace with the revolution and are for the most part still clumsy, uninsulated, over sized glass bottles. Luckily a few companies are trying to change that.

  • From Montana we have a small company that makes custom ceramic growlers to order. They make everything from small run batches for companies and events to truly unique one of a kind beer haulers. Take a look at their gallery for some impressive examples.
  • Next up is probably the best next step for growlers. So far advanced in fact that it’s not actually available. The MiiR Growler is currently fully funded on Kickstarter so they’ll soon be producing  them for us all to enjoy. This marvelous little invention is vacuum insulated and will keep anything inside chilled for up to 24 hours. So long gone are the days of having to race home to put your growler in the fridge before it gets warm. Also, these bottles eschew the traditional threaded top  in favor or clamp that provides a cleaner seal with no pesky leaks.

6. Gather Ye Friends From Far And Wide.

Well now that you’ve schleped all that delicious beer home, you’re not just going to hoard it are you? Well, if you did I wouldn’t blame you. But why not have some friends over? And what better way to enjoy time with friends than over a few friendly (or cut throat) hands of cards. However, if you have a great new beer in a great new growler why bother with the same old Bicycle playing cards. Rather, why not take a chance on these sweet reinterpretations of classic cards from Misc. Goods.


7. The Cornetto Trilogy

More commonly known as the Blood And Ice Cream Trilogy. Even more commonly known as the Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The Worlds End Trilogy. Now that The World’s End is finally available on DVD, you can purchase all three as a single DVD. Because isn’t that quaint, a DVD.

8. The Sound Of The Radio.

I drive for a living. Well, not really but driving is a huge part of getting to and from what I need to do. As such I spend a lot of time in the car. This has resulted in my coming to have a fine appreciation for what a local NPR affiliate brings to the table. I’m lucky to have WUSF available to me here as I find it to be a much better selection that some other neighboring NPR stations. However, for some reason I don’t have access to the radio in my own house (other than streaming which poses its own host of issues). This poses a problem when I want to listen to Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me, RadioLab, or catch the Nole’s on the radio on the odd day I can’t get them on TV. So this has brought me on a hunt for the perfect radio. All of my research has led me to Tivoli. My first choice would definitely be the Tivoli Model One. It’s a nice looking unit, and Tivoli is well known for their sound quality. However, the Model One is definitely a table top unit. If you’re looking for something a little more portable maybe for the beach or some time at the park than let me direct you to the Tivoli Songbook. All the same great qualities of the model one but it runs on rechargeable batteries so it can go where ever you want it to.

model one

9. HUD

Although I doubt I’ll ever find myself riding a motor cycle, I can only imagine how difficult it is to keep the bike up right and moving. Throw in everything else such as navigating, checking your blind spots, and even using your phone and suddenly you have an impossible challenge. Or at you did. Enter the Skully Heads Up Display Helmet. This helmet not only protects your noggin, it contains GPS/Navigationg, a 180 degree rearview camera, and Bluetooth that allows you to integrate with your cellphone. The damn thing is even DOT certified.

10. A Wooden Partner For Your Robot Heart.

Anyone with a desk has it decorated in some fashion. Whether it’s simply covered in papers, dotted with a few obligatory family photos, or harbor to a meticulously curated collection of items meant to define them to any who might wander by. Any of these scenarios could easily be improved by one simple addition: a wooden robot.


Well that rounds out the first ten. Be sure to join us again soon for the 2nd ten!