Thursday, October 27, 2016

Christmas List

Well, the holidays aren't very far away, are they?  Halloween is almost here, which means that Christmas shopping needs to start soon.  Here's my list of things that I want.  Y'know, just in case some esoteric millionaire with more money than sense reads my blog and wants to become my patron.

I've finally boiled my hobbies down to about four that I regularly indulge: hiking, reading, music, and gaming.  I don't spend a lot of time practicing or making music (other than accompanying singers at church on the piano and organ from time to time) but I love listening to music.  And I don't game nearly as much as I'd like, but I have no intention of cutting that from my list of hobbies.

Video games, miniatures games (a la Blood Bowl) and some others have all gone to the wayside.

Of those, there's not necessarily a lot that I'd need, or want.  Reading doesn't really require anything except more books, and I've got more books than I know what to do with already anyway.  I've read all of the Dresden Files books, but I don't buy them in hardback, I buy them in mass market paperback, so I tend to lag.  I think I've actually got at least the last three to buy.  And although I hardly need it, I wouldn't say no to a nice collectors leather-bound Lord of the Rings.  There's a handful of other series that I wouldn't mind filling in a handful of titles that I'm still missing.  And although not books, I guess I could say the same for a few movie series.  I've got the first two Daniel Craig James Bond's but not the last two, for instance, and I'm missing the last Dark Knight movie, etc.

I really don't need anything on that hobby.  Not only do I have more books than I have time to read right now, but if I want another one, I can just go buy it.  While books are not as cheap as they used to be (or they should be) I also make a lot more money than I did when I was a teenager, and even then, I was at the point where if I wanted a book, I'd mostly just go buy it.  I guess I also wouldn't say no to a Kindle paperwhite.  I use my Kindle app on my Android, which is actually rather convenient for just picking up and reading when I'm sitting and waiting somewhere, but an actual Kindle device would be something I'd use too.  Assuming I kept the two well synched.

I'm not sure that there's anything I want from the world of gaming, either.  I could probably be convinced to pick up an interesting setting book here or there... but I'm all full up on systems that I want to play (and I use a home-brewed kitback of a system that's available for free anyway) and with my friends, I'm mostly likely to stick with systems we already have (if we ever actually play again.  Our group dynamic has petered out... again.  I may need to search for another group, which is a real shame because I like the guys I game with, but we just don't ever seem to manage to make getting together regularly actually happen anymore.  Maybe it's just me...)  So while that's a hobby that I refuse to let go of, it isn't a hobby that requires me to be a consumer anymore.  I simply don't buy much.  Like I said; I'd read some setting material, maybe.  I always enjoy reading setting material.  I can't think of any off-hand, though, other than the Savage Worlds Totems of the Dead stuff or the old Dark Legacies books.  And both of those are out of print and need to be bought as used titles on Amazon—where they're actually not cheap.  It's a good $80 to get the two Totems of the Dead books on Amazon.  You can buy them cheaper as pdfs, but I greatly prefer to have actual books, of course.

I've been thinking for a little while that it might be kind of fun to start collecting old MERP setting material... just because.  I'm actually not convinced that I really agree with MERP's take on Middle-earth; in quite, I dislike a great deal of it, and I certainly think that the system isn't appropriate for it.  Then again, my MIDDLE-EARTH REMIXED setting might have more use for this stuff.  And even in a more standard Middle-earth, there are things I can use.  It may be a bit like panning for gold among mounds and mounds of dross and gravel for a handful of minor nuggets, but still... it's better than nothing.  And if I divorce it in my mind from the actual Middle-earth and just see it as a cool setting of sorts in its own right, I could enjoy it.

I pick up new music all of the time.  I have a whole 'nother blog dedicated to it, although I don't necessarily get around to updating it all that often.  I don't need anything for that hobby.

So that leaves, really, the bulk of what I'd want for Christmas to come out of my hiking hobby.  This is the stuff that I'd really want the most.  What do I need, first, and then what upgrades or spares to what I already have do I want?

Need: I lost a few things.  I had an older backpack that broke and I tossed it.  I think it might have had a few things inside of it that I inadvertently threw away.  I can't figure out what else might have happened to this stuff, anyway, so that's my running theory.  In the meantime, I've torn my basement apart looking for the stuff that I used before, but I can't find it.  So, I need...

  • Some kind of water treatment.  I liked my SteriPEN and am sad to have lost it, but I'm also thinking of a Sawyer Mini.  Maybe I'll go for both, even.
  • My sandals (for river crossings and wearing in the evening when I'm out of my boots) "blew out" this year and need to be replaced.  I'd like to get some Crocs.  Yeah, I know, they're ugly, but they're also incredibly lightweight and reasonably comfortable.  They'll do the job nicely.  Going hiking isn't about being fashionable anyway.
  • I lost my waist pack; I'd like to get hip belt pouches instead to replace them.
  • I need new maps for the new areas I'm going to go hiking to.  I wouldn't mind stocking up on half a dozen potential destinations up front so I don't have to worry about this in the future for a while.
  • Bear canister?  I don't technically need to buy, but a lot of the places I'm targeting to go hiking, this would either be a very nice thing to have, or even a requirement.  Where it's a requirement, you can rent, but I'd like to just get my own and not worry about it.
Want: I don't need anything on this list.  This is either about getting a spare, or upgrading what I have to something more expensive (and presumably better.)
  • I like my pack, but I'd like even more to have an ULA Catalyst.  This is even more high priority with a bear canister, because those won't fit very well in my current pack (maybe I could lash one to the bottom?
  • I'm reasonably happy with my sleeping pad, but I'd really love one of those inflatable lightweight Therm-a-Rest ones.
  • I like my tent well enough too, but Cabela's Ultralight 2-person XPG tent looks to be one of the best on the market right now.  Assuming that it is even still on the market... their website shows the 2-person variety as sold out, although the 3-person version is still for sale.  I'm worried in general about the Cabela's brands with their impending merger with Bass Pro Shops.  Time to make a run on Cabela's, maybe.
  • Speaking of which, I LOVE my XPG Hiking Boots.  They've been updated, and I have no idea if I would like the new XPG hiking boots, but Cabela's as retained the pattern for the ones I have, swapped the GORE-TEX lining with their own proprietary DRY-PLUS lining, and dropped the price slightly.  And now, even those are on sale; I can get the two colors of Cabela's Men's DPX Hikers for $60 each!  I don't need them, because my other boots are just fine, but they won't be forever, and I'm tempted to strike while the iron's hot with these.  The Cabela's Instinct Men's Pursuitz Hunting Boots are also the same pattern (with camo!  And the original GTX liner) and while they're not on sale, and therefore twice the price of the DPX Hikers, they also look pretty snazzy with their Cabela's Zonz Backcountry camo pattern.  Ideally, I'd buy all three and have four pairs of boots that I could rotate between.  Yeah, that's a lot of boots.  But wouldn't that be cool?
  • I wear a Frog Toggs rain suit when I go hiking, which I actually quite like.  But maybe a GORE-TEX fancy packable one would be nice too.  In general, I've gone with cheaper clothing; the point of much of hiking clothes is to take them out and beat them up in the wilderness, and the main concern is that it's sufficiently warm and quick-drying.  And you hardly need to buy the grossly over-priced Patagonia or North Face brands to get the performance you want; heck, Wal-Mart and Target have perfectly find performance fleece jackets, running tech shirts and joggers, merino wool socks, etc.  And at a fraction of the price.  But I wouldn't mind upgrading a bunch of my stuff to fancier stuff.  I'm not 100% sure that I've even hike in it; it'd just be my casual clothes of choice to wear around town and around the house!  Railriders Weatherpants, Cabela's XPG Trekkers, and more—I do like my Wilderness Chic look.
  • I'd really like a camera dedicated to my trips.  A small, easy to use and easy to carry one that I can use when carrying around my phone doesn't make sense (and a phone, unless it's got an optical zoom lens attachment, is going to suck for taking landscape shots anyway.)
Beyond that, there's a few hobbies that maybe I'd like to get into, such as shooting and gun-collecting.  A handful of power tools aren't bad; I'm missing a few things that I feel like I have to borrow more often than I would have thought, etc.

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