WBEZ | Christmas gifts http://www.wbez.org/tags/christmas-gifts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Need A Last-Minute Gift? Don't Want To Buy Stuff? All Tech Has Ideas http://www.wbez.org/news/science/need-last-minute-gift-dont-want-buy-stuff-all-tech-has-ideas-114249 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mixed-tape-photo-5839da208bf8bf4439fe15544733e3fde3370a22-s400-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bummer, you&#39;ve missed the best time to order Christmas gifts online! And now you have these options: pay for same-day delivery or face the dreaded shopping mall (or resort to that end-of-the-line choice of a gift card, but you wouldn&#39;t go there, would you?).</p><p>So what&#39;s the last-minute buy for your plugged-in friend, sister or mom? Do they really need another Internet-connected&nbsp;thing? Nothing against gadgets and gizmos, but if you&#39;re of the philosophy that thoughtful gestures qualify perfectly well as Christmas presents, we&#39;ve got a few ideas for you.</p><p>These are, of course, only a few of the possibilities &mdash; do let us know, in the comments or&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/npralltech" target="_blank">on Twitter</a>, what other suggestions you may have and if you&#39;ve gifted something like this.</p><p>(Note: None of these ideas are meant to be specific to any particular online platform, and you should be able to use whatever website or app you fancy. This is also not meant to be a step-by-step instruction, but a quick Google search should unearth production tips, if you need them.)</p><hr /><div id="res460286141"><p><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">Last-Minute Gifts That Don&#39;t Involve Shopping</span></strong></p><p><strong>The 21st-Century Mixtape</strong></p><h3><img alt="While the days of sharing mixed tapes and audio cassettes may be long gone, exchanging playlists doesn't have to be." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/mixed-tape-photo-5839da208bf8bf4439fe15544733e3fde3370a22-s400-c85.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left; height: 232px; width: 310px;" title="While the days of sharing mixed tapes and audio cassettes may be long gone, exchanging playlists doesn't have to be. (Darren Johnson/Getty Images/EyeEm)" /></h3><ul><li><div id="res460286278"><ul><li>Remember when a mixtape from your high school crush was, like, totally the best? We don&#39;t get those often anymore, and that&#39;s a shame. Bring the mixtape back with a personalized digital music selection. This could be a playlist or station in your favorite music streaming service or a downloadable mix you could give as a gift.</li><li>&nbsp;</li><li>Inspirations: An awesome workout mix, a memory-lane mix, a mix based on a recent music festival or productivity-driving instrumental mix.</li></ul></div></li></ul><div id="res460286312"><h3>&nbsp;</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The Shared Memory Bank</strong></p><div id="res460313088" previewtitle="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/polaroid-idea-2dfaefed86d66be13adb61a417bc13e350824962-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection. (Manchester Daily Express/SSPL/Getty)" /></p><div><div><p>Does your mom or grandma constantly ask you for photos? Do your relatives or friends have endless messaging chains sharing images of weird experiences or accidentally found throwback pics?</p></div></div></div><div><p>You could set everyone up with a private online album &mdash; with shared passwords or access rights &mdash; to deposit all the unfiltered memories of the year. (Your notifications, or lack thereof, will thank you.)</p><p>Technical note: Lots of file-sharing and specifically photo-sharing websites and apps will make this easy.</p><hr /><p><strong>The Perfect Awakening</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286314"><div id="res460320363" previewtitle="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000062448900_large-1--76188cc2eb7ee35f4705f610cdf264c27d04d73f-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong. (Serpeblu/iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>You&#39;ll never forget the parental voices that woke you up in the morning as a kid, a combination of nagging and loving depending on the day. Now you can do the same.</p></div></div></div><div><p>If you know someone&nbsp;really&nbsp;well, give them a gift of a personalized phone alarm clock with a selection of recordings of your own voice or other sounds that would get them out of bed.</p><p>The tricky part is the potential of becoming associated with a dreadful part of the day for the night-owl types. But wouldn&#39;t it be awesome to lighten up someone&#39;s first waking moments?</p><p>Non-music sound inspirations: Sizzling bacon, coffee maker, shower, drill sergeant, barking dog, birds, actual parents imploring to wake up.</p><hr /><p><strong>The Constant Reminder</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286316"><div id="res460312899" previewtitle="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/screensaver-idea-cff1129d04dd481c7c2c411aac466c9c92d1f44e-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)" /></p><div><div><p>Help your loved one up their screensaver game!</p></div></div></div><div><p>Say no to blurry family pics (unless, you know, they&#39;re into that sort of thing) and give them a selection of visuals for their computer or phone screen that you made, edited or dug up.</p><p>Technical note: Many screens can display slideshows and interactive or &quot;live&quot; images.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The No-Googling-Required R&amp;R</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286381"><div id="res460319699" previewtitle="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000058434368_large-c696ee608cd12e893cdba58ad662a14a0c04ae54-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions. (Steve Cole, Christie &amp; Cole Studio Inc./iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>This one would take a bit of time, but think of the rewards!</p></div></div></div><div><p>Give a gift of hassle-free adventures by preparing a digital collection of ideas for quick day trips, weekend getaways or local explorations that would require minimal investment from the recipient, with contacts, directions and advice.</p><p>Inspirations: Maps for reference, helpful online reviews, menu tips for restaurants, affordable kid- or pet-friendly activities, calendar of fairs or farmers markets or sports events.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The Fun-Time Subscription</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286512"><div id="res460324743" previewtitle="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000010633281_large-1--93913090d1fa3e2ab92ebf62ead7a7d08613a3d0-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you. (DawnPoland /iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>This one is for the committed: It&#39;s like that &quot;word of the day&quot; or horoscope email service, except from you and with memes.</p></div></div></div><div><p>Create a &quot;newsletter&quot; for one with daily or weekly (or, you know, occasional) links to something they would find funny or helpful. There are simple newsletter services you could dig up online, but this could also just be a steady stream of emails, app messages or even texts.</p><p>Inspirations: Recipes, local musicians, obscure histories of words, favorite NPR stories, Harry Potter-themed quizzes, puppies in Santa costumes, cat videos (obviously).</p><hr /><p><strong>The Customized Entertainment</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286508"><div id="res460320697" previewtitle="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000070345639_large-74fc75952c1282c31019a2729b38076278e0b5e7-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included. (Svetikd/iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>It&#39;s a modern-day annoyance: You&#39;ve got an evening free, but what to watch?</p></div></div></div><div><p>Do the leg work for your movie-loving friend or sibling with a curated list of the best flicks to watch online &mdash; for instance, organized by genre, complete with links to trailers, spoiler-free reviews and personal comments.</p><p>Alternative inspirations: A curated list of recommendations for books,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/" target="_blank">podcasts</a>&nbsp;(with best episodes), games or online video channels.</p><p>NPR tips: For best&nbsp;<a href="http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2015/" target="_blank">books of 2015</a>&nbsp;and for all&nbsp;<a href="http://earbud.fm/" target="_blank">kinds of podcasts</a>.</p></div></div></div><p><span id="cke_bm_766E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 09:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/need-last-minute-gift-dont-want-buy-stuff-all-tech-has-ideas-114249 Al Gini's Christmas book bag http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/al-ginis-christmas-book-bag-104215 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/greencandy8888.jpg" title="A great book may be the best bet for gifts this Holiday (flickr/ greencandy8888)" /></p><p>Years ago I gave up the elusive quest for the perfect Christmas gift and started buying everyone a book that I hoped they would love &mdash; or at leaset one they&#39;d find interesting. Of course, this too is tricky to figure out. But my formula is a simple one: If I read it and liked it maybe they&rsquo;ll like it too! So here&rsquo;s my list of pre-certified books that may fit your gift needs &mdash;&nbsp;or could simply wind up being a gift you buy for yourself!</p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Gillian Flynn, <em>Gone Girl</em></p><p>Flynn&rsquo;s book surprised me and the publishing world as well. It&rsquo;s been on the <em>New York Times </em>Best Seller list for over 26 weeks. The reason is simple: It&#39;s plot driven, character rich and suspense laden, a murder mystery without a murder. It&rsquo;s about a missing wife, a troubled marriage and a totally self-centered woman who feels she has the right to play fast with the lives of everyone she knows. Its complex, compelling and addictive.&nbsp;</p><ul><li><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/gillian-flynn-interview-101906">Related: Claire Zulkey&#39;s interview with Gillian Flynn</a></em></li></ul><p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Carol Anshaw, <em>Carry The One</em></p><p>In 1992 Carol Anshaw published <em>Aquamarine</em> and I immediately became her biggest fan. Her latest work,&nbsp;<em>Carry The One,</em> proves that her power as a writer has grown with the years. This book tells the story of a group of friends involved in an auto accident that takes the life of a young girl. It&#39;s also a story of collective guilt and how time cannot heal all wounds.&nbsp;</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Jess Walter, <em>Beautiful Ruins</em></p><p>This is my guilty pleasure for the year. I couldn&rsquo;t go to Italy this summer, so I read this romantic story of Italy, love, family and memories. The story starts with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and the making of <em>Cleopatra </em>in Rome. Somewhere along the line Richard has an affair with a minor actress in the film. The actress flees to a seaside hotel and the owner falls in love with her. She leaves for California and points west. A child is born.&nbsp; Years later, the hotel owner sets out to find his lost first love. Then the story gets too rich and too much fun to tell you about it now and ruin it for you. The book is not a sleazy melodrama; rather, it is a charming story told by a master storyteller.</p><p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; J.R. Moehringer, <em>Sutton</em></p><p>In this work, Moehringer transforms&nbsp;bank robber Willie &ldquo;The Actor&rdquo; Sutton into a romantic, modern day Robin Hood. Sutton is painted as a tough but intelligent Irish kid who turned to crime because he had no other alternatives. Sutton is depicted as a &quot;Gentleman Thief&quot; who reads poetry and literature and plans his bank stick ups with the precision of a Fortune 500 CEO. I learned a great deal about Willie Sutton, and learned to like him as well. The book may stray from the facts, but it&rsquo;s a great read.</p><p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Philip Kerr, <em>Prague Fatale</em></p><p>This is the latest installment of Phillip Kerr&rsquo;s saga of Bernie Gunther, the Berlin detective in Nazi Germany who hates Hitler. Nevertheless, Bernie is drafted into the SS as a detective and is forced to serve a cause he hates. This is really story of a moral man in an immoral society and his struggle to maintain his personal dignity, sense of honor &mdash; and his life.&nbsp;</p><p>6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Kevin Power, <em>The Yellow Birds</em></p><p>From the time of Homer, wars have produced death and destitution &mdash; as well as great literature. For example: World War I, Eric Remarque&#39;s&nbsp;<em>All Quiet on the Western Front</em>; WWII, Irwin Shaw&#39;s&nbsp;<em>The Young Lions</em>; Vietnam, Philip Caputo&#39;s&nbsp;<em>A Rumor of War</em> and Tim O&rsquo;Brian&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Going After Cacciato</em>. The war in Iraq is no exception to the rule. Kevin Powers&rsquo; <em>The Yellow Birds</em> is a riveting account of what can happen to young men when they enter the &ldquo;field of Mars.&rdquo;</p><p>7.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; David J. Walker, <em>Company Orders</em></p><p>David Walker is the author of two detective series set in Chicago: <em>The Mal Foley</em>&nbsp;series, about a disbarred lawyer, and <em>The Wild Onion</em> series, about a former female cop and her lawyer husband, who very much resemble the New York-based Nick and Nora Charles. Walker makes Chicago and its characters come alive in all of his novels: priests, cardinals, detectives, the CIA and your occasional hitman. While the story line is a little thin, the scenery and characters are compelling.</p><p>8.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Nelson Mandela with Richard Stengel,&nbsp;<em>Long Walk to Freedom</em></p><p>I spent a big part of last summer in South Africa. One of the main topics of conversation was the health of the first president of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela. So, I picked up a copy of his autobiography,&nbsp;<em>Long Walk to Freedom&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;&nbsp;</em>all 768 pages of it. This is not a hard read or one that requires a deep knowledge of African politics. This is simply the story of a man &nbsp;who believed that injustice to any man or woman, no matter what their color ethnicity, is wrong. This is the story of a man who spent 27 years in prison and refused to hate those who put him there. This is the story Africa&rsquo;s Abraham Lincoln.</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/al-ginis-christmas-book-bag-104215