The Eighth Annual Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Maribou says:

    Happy holiday season, baby. I’ll try to inflict only the bare minimum required Christmas music on you this year….Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      He gets a break when he sleeps, no? What more?

      We start off slow with advent music for a couple/few weeks, especially in the morning. By early-/mid-December the classical major key songs come out, then the crooner mix starts making an appearance in the afternoon… about a week to 10-days before its no-holds-barred nonsense…

      Which reminds me, I have to think of a theme for my 2018 mix…Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @marchmaine This is the first year we’ve had a houseguest, meaning that Jaybird cannot flee from nor sequester my Christmas music as in previous years…. I’m making some accommodations.

        It’s a hard life, this being unequally yoked ;).

        (And thanks for the link.)Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh, one thing I intended to include but failed to:

    This Butter Dispenser will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

    Buttering rolls? Buttering corn? Putting butter into a saucepan? Putting a dollop on top of some mashed potatoes? It dispenses an attractive ribbon of butter that spreads quickly and easily and melts quickly and easily due to an absolutely awesome volume to surface area ratio.

    The only bad part? You’ll eat more butter.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    I’m getting the GF a frame for painting of her dog. Someone she knows painted it and it needs some classy framing.

    Me, I’m hoping to get something like this in turn: WhaleReport

  4. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    The nerf sniper gun has elevation sights, but no windage? WTF.

    We were at the UberMall last week and passed by the Lego shop… I confess to thinking, huh, I guess they just make the legos in the shape of the thing they want… curves, fenders, engines, etc. Of course, once they get dumped into the giant tub of undifferentiated plastic, it doesn’t much matter.

    You are exactly right… under 12 is a blast to shop for… 12-17 is tough, the land of shrugs and blank looks… 18-22 is a little better.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      We’ve been buying the 17 year old the latest and greatest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book since the first one came out in 2007.

      We realized somewhere around him being 13 that these were no longer books for him, not really, and so we apologized about how we were going to keep buying him these books every Christmas until he was a surly 17 year-old slouching with his hair in his face.

      And, yep, he’s 17.

      I suppose we should apologize this year for telling him that we’re going to keep buying him these when he’s 25.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        By 25 he’ll be grateful again. Probably.

        18-22 is when they start to realize that a $100 chef’s knife is a really great gift… too expensive to buy on their own, but something they need for their first apartment, and something they’ll pack-up and take with them for years and years.

        Basically, you can buy them QOL stuff about which you have lots of knowledge.

        Once they have a kid, well, then you abandon them and are right back in the under 12 wheel-house. It’s the Christmas Circle of Life.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    You didn’t ask for my satorial advice this year….Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I sent out an email to the entire email list! I begged people to respond!

      Wait. Do we need a new email list?

      (Please send me your Sartorial Advice and I will include a Saul’s Sartorial Suggestions Section! I promise!)Report

  6. Avatar jason says:

    A good YA series is the Miss Peregrine’s series. The fourth book recently released. The first three are good. I would argue that they’re more interesting than the Harry Potter books (and I liked those).Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      @jason Good to know. People want me to read these enough that someone has actually purchased the first one for me… this can either convince me or get me to stall forever…. perhaps I shall flip the switch back to convinced 🙂Report

  7. Avatar Fish says:

    Youngest boy convinced his brother to collaborate on their gifts this year and asked us to pre-order Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and asked his Granny for a set of Switch controllers (so they and their friends can all play when they come over). They get enough Steam games on their own, so I figure I’ll throw some Barnes & Noble gift cards at them for books and music and stuff. And in lieu of “gifts,” K and I are going to treat ourselves to a night out at our favorite restaurant we can only afford maybe once a year.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    The granddaughters are easy this year — they’re getting tack for the horse* so it was just a matter of sending a check to their mom.

    My daughter and his girlfriend are hard. There’s a large feral cat colony a few blocks away from her house. The alley and utility easement behind her lot is a cat highway of sorts, and a considerable number of them stop off to use her back yard as a urinal. They’ve tried all the recommended things for discouraging such behavior, none of them effective. I’ve been asked about a computer-controlled gadget that will shoot things at cats on the grass that (a) will scare them off and (b) not hurt them**. Has to work year-round, so no water. I have ideas, but it seems like this ought to be an already-solved problem. Anyone have something?

    * Technically, a Fell pony. She’s a rescue horse and has gained 200 pounds since the family got her. My daughter (who can do training but not breaking) says she’s ready to ride. Eager to be ridden, in fact: when my daughter saddles up the pasture buddy, the pony sticks her nose in, clearly asking “Where’s my stuff? I know this job!”

    ** Last time the specs were discussed, the girlfriend chimed in with, “If it can tell the difference between cats and raccoons, feel free to seriously bruise the raccoons.”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I think the problem is that it has to work when cats show up but not when humans show up, right?

      Also, that it has to work at 11PM when everyone is tucking into bed without having to be reset at 2AM when another cat shows up.

      And, presumably, won’t bother anyone within earshot when it activates at 2AM.

      Man. Making this thing work when it’s below freezing is a real pain in the butt.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        I’d be leaning to something sonic, but that does run afoul of regulators if self-made, I think…

        Sounds like they already tried the scent-based things.

        eta: this is the sort of thing I was thinking of? but the flashing might be really annoying:

        PS if they already tried something like that, they may be stuck. cats who can ignore ultrasonics are pretty much immune?

        maybe an air cannon like we used to use on grackles in the blueberry fields…Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          I’m pretty much in the same place as you guys.

          Ultrasonic worries me because of neighbors’ pets. Don’t know how directional it can be, or how tight beaming would effect power drop off at distances.

          Light can be highly directional. Much less effective during daylight hours.

          Single-shot air cannons are, well, not trivial but all you need is a compressed air source, a solenoid-controlled valve, and an assortment of PVC. Shoot soft-ish rubber balls at them, big enough that you can’t poke out an eye. Brightly colored so you can find them. Add a pressure sensor if you want finer control on velocity. Single-shot spring powered devices are a bit more complicated, at least if you want variable velocity. Reliable semi-automatic loading makes things more difficult — eg, an Airsoft gear box has quite a few moving parts to get things right. Some of that might be simplified if you have a processor controlling things, and that’s trivial compared to target acquisition and tracking.

          My son asked about the complexity of computer vision for this. My response was, “But think of the side benefits of having a Raspberry Pi running things. When Melissa gets up in the morning at a conference in DC, she has e-mail from the device waiting for her, reporting six shots taken the previous night, and a copy of the target acquisition image for each.”

          If it’s not a solved problem, I’ll start with the targeting and a laser pointer, and then worry about the deterrent.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            A laser pointer might be the wrong way to go.

            “We made cats run around the lawn for two hours before they got tired, peed in the radishes, then fell asleep on the deck.”Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              Well, more because record the image while the laser pointer is on and see if it’s hitting the cat.

              Although, when I’m just speculating idly about what could be done, at least in the summer there’s a scaled-down version of the NFL’s aerial cam, with a laser pointing straight down, and “We made the feral cat run around on the lawn for an hour chasing the laser dot and then dropped the water balloon on it.” Invite the neighbors over for a glass of wine and evening cat watching.

              Some days I’m just mean.Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    This is awesome, as usual.Report

  10. Avatar atomickristin says:

    Hey, plus one on the Instant Pot. I LOVE THAT THING.

    I’ve had 10,000 kitchen gadgets and gizmos and it is the only one (except maybe a regular old food processor) that has totally lived up to the hype.Report

    • Avatar Em Carpenter says:

      I love it. A whole chicken in 30 mins. Not a pretty one, but juicy and great for dinner on a week night.
      I use it alllll the time. I need a second bc sometimes I have more than one thing I want to make in it per meal. Maybe one of the really small ones, for side dishes.
      @jaybird this is not your mother’s pressure cooker! Much safer, user friendly and less prone to catastrophic error.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I have no fear of pressure cookers (use it’s multiple times a week) and we already have a slow cooker that we use once a month or so. But if I were buying those this now I’d get an instant pot, to consolidate the two devices into one quantum of storage space.

        Doubt we’ll have a need for one though – these things tend to last approximately forever…Report

        • Avatar Em Carpenter says:

          I will say I don’t love it as a replacement for my slow cooker. Being deep instead of wide, I don’t think it does as well in that mode. I’m keeping both.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      How hard is it to clean? As I’ve gotten older, some of my cooking choices are made on the grounds of, “Yeah, but is it enough better to make the cleanup worth it?”Report

      • Avatar Em Carpenter says:

        SUPER easy. It’s stainless steel. I’ve scorched Mac n cheese in the bottom of it and still cleaned it right up with minimal effort.
        For some things that may splash up inside the valve mechanism you’ll need to take that off and clean it but it’s only hard the first time.Report

  11. Avatar PROFESSOR ESPERANTO says:

    > I don’t know what’s hip, wack, or straight-up booty anymore.

    Obviously, since all the kids nowadays say things are “lit”.Report

  12. Avatar Em Carpenter says:

    I’ll add this for any writers you know and love or anyone who likes to journal. I bought this for myself and it is gorgeous and of amazing quality for the price:

  13. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    For an unusual coffee table book, I recommend Taschen’s East German Handbook. It documents different aspects of life in the former East Germany, covering everything from food to the Stassi:

  14. Avatar bookdragon says:

    Something purely odd but whimsical for plant lovers:

    We saw these at the Philly Flower Show last year and bought a couple there to bring home. They live happily in our master bathroom, which as an undersea theme and where morning showers take care of the air moisture they need, but they could hang in any window or if you live along the Gulf Coast, on a patio outside.Report

  1. December 14, 2018

    […] we have The Eighth Annual Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide to help us out with most of […]Report