If you are like me and still struggling with gift ideas for a family member or seven, this post is for you. If you want to just hear the long and short of it, there are really two primary reasons for me sending this out:
I know there are some sickos out there who actually enjoy drinking water, but I needed one of these to motivate me. I have gone from being #neverwater to #drinking128ouncesaday.
Honestly the comfiest sneaker I have ever worn. Perfect for working at home, since you feel a little less professional if you are just running around in your socks all day. I now have two pairs. They get my full endorsement, and I even have an endorsement of the lady sneakers from a close and good friend.
Those are my faves. There were a few other things that made working from home a lot easier, namely the Vari standing desk. My main feeling about standing desks: After roughly around 3 times using it, you will be standing exponentially more. Also related to work stuff is Baronfig, which sells organizational tools like various journals and pens (the pens are really great). I got Elisabeth a cookbook journal for our anniversary this year.
For the tech stuff, we elected to get a Google Nest Wifi setup. It has been great, but because they are all Bluetooth speakers it means lots of yelling at it to “Play Christmas music!” and our record player is feeling neglected. The robots are taking over.
With everyone at home this year, we all probably have reading lists that are a mile long. But I loved Unmaking the Presidency by Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey (no relation to the Cognac). I also liked Andrew Weissman’s Where the Law Ends, which is a deep dive into the Mueller investigation. Others that I enjoyed: The Second Founding; The Populist Moment; and Michael Schmidt’s Donald Trump v The United States. Switching speeds, I read three books that helped my soul in this suckfest of a year: The Reappearing Church; Christopher Wright’s study of Lamentations; and Where the Goodness Still Grows, by Amy Peterson (which lead me to get Wright’s study of Lamentations).
I feel like this was a great year for music. Phoebe Bridgers killed it. Fiona Apple killed it. Haim killed it (this is Elisabeth’s favorite, if you don’t trust me). There were so many great albums, and while I think there were five standouts, we also got great albums from Run the Jewels; Freddie Gibbs; Real Estate; Moses Sumney (super good); Grimes; Tennis; Kacy Hill; U.S. Girls; and a full-on gaggle of other artists. It’s a tiny night-light in a dim year.
Elisabeth and I are really enjoying a show on Amazon called The Bureau. Here is the catch: IT’S IN FRENCH. It’s basically about the French CIA, so it’s lots of espionage and stuff but it’s ALL IN FRENCH. So, you are watching a show about secret agents but with French sophistication. However, I’d say it’s definitely more John le Carré (R.I.P.) than James Bond. But it really makes you feel like a grown-up.
This would not be a David Podhaskie Gift Ideas Post™ without a bourbon recommendation. A neat thing happened the other day: I went to the liquor store here to get some wine, and as I am want to do, began perusing the bourbon aisle. They had a bottle of Kentucky Owl, a highly sought-after and hyped-up bourbon, for $125. I took it up to one of the whiskey guys there and asked them if it was worth it. I got a clear answer: “Nope. Really not worth it and there are so many better bourbons at a lower price.” There is an assumption with whiskey that the more money you spend, the better the product will be, but amongst bourbon-heads that is not the case at all. A great bourbon that is $20 is Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond. You could also spring for the Old Grand-Dad 114, which is about $5 more. The 114 gets its name from its proof, which means it’s about 57% alcohol. That is a lot for some folks, but it does make for great cocktails.
Lastly, we now have a Peloton. Yes, it is ridiculous, but we thought of it this way: We are no longer paying for gym memberships (my wife is going to laugh at the idea of me going to the gym) so this is really just replacing that payment. We both love it, and if you want some proof: We have had it for 23 days and have used it for workouts 26 times.
If you need a should-read for the week, this profile of Mormonism by McKay Coppins is fascinating. The next time we are having a drink together, ask me how I was instrumental in getting a copy of McKay’s book into the hands of former Senator Tom Harkin. It’s a hoot.
One final Jackal is coming for the year, but I’m writing two other pieces separately that I will send out to all my habibis. Stay safe, enjoy the final nights of Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas.