Winter Solstice Gift Guide 2012!

309657_10100638960929038_296217771_nIt’s that time of the year, where the days are about as short as they’ll get (in the Northern Hemisphere) and thus we give gifts to those we care about to make them feel a little less along out in the cold darkness. First, I’d like to remind you that clicking the Amazon banner on this very page takes you to Amazon to buy whatever you desire and a bit of that comes back to us. Also, all of the links in this post that point to Amazon are customized for us, so you can click those and go straight to the product while still helping us out. Thanks!

But as for the content of this post, I’ve asked the Paleopals to contribute their ideas for things you could get the geek in your life for this solstice season. Here are the results. Enjoy!

 Patrick writes in 2nd person and suggests:

A great gift for the Science… sort of fan is a limited edition print of Peaches the Brachiolope by Brynn Metheney.

However, if you’re a fan and you’re shopping for someone who isn’t exactly a fan (though I can’t imagine why you’d tolerate their company if they weren’t listeners) she’s got lots of other fantastic art that’s likely to please anyone.

If you’ve got friends that are “steampunks,” you could buy them one of the novels that kicked off the genera. The Difference Engine by William Gibson, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, and Infernal Devices (Angry Robot) by K.W. Jeter (who coined the word “steampunk”) are generally regarded as the first steampunk novels, and they all came out at nearly the same time. My understanding is that the three authors were all bouncing ideas off one another during the writing process. I haven’t read The Difference Engine (so I won’t comment on it). The Anubis Gates is often trumpeted as the best of the three (and it’s finally available as a Kindle edition). It is quite good, but not exactly steampunk (at least not how I normally think of steampunk). It’s really a historical time travel novel. Infernal Devices is a fairly hilarious adventure novel, and is squarely in the steampunk family of sci-fi/fantasy.

Nate Silver is the blogger responsible for the blog that’s been bang on predicting presidential races for the last two election cycles. He’s riding high and he’s got a new book out, The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don’t. Pretty decent book that falls somewhere in between Freakonomics and Innumeracy (both in style and in scope, although it’s longer than both). He covers lots of things Science… sort of listeners might be interested in including trying to predict earthquakes and forecasting climate change.

If Nate Silver isn’t nerdy enough for the budding data scientist on your list, maybe you should get them a membership to If you know someone interested in coding up some really good data visualizations (web ready or otherwise) think about signing them up for Nathan Yau’s members only tutorials for a year. Or, if you prefer get them Yau’s recent book, Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics. Or the great-granddaddy of data viz references, Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which is a really nice looking book (even if it is just sitting on a coffee table.

Kelly wants to keep you awake so you can make the decision with her suggestions:

Now you can combine the two great loves of your life, science and caffeine! The deep sea diver tea infuser is a great gift for the aquatically-inclined caffeine lover in your life:

Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books that you loved reading as a child? Zach Weinersmith has come up with his own choosable pathway game book called Trial of the Clone, which his wife thinks is awesome! So check it out!

Ben didn’t respond but Ryan assumes he’d suggest:

The Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Canada! Go visit Ben and see all of the sights.

Did you like Canada so much you want to live there? Here’s how.

Not totally convinced? This book seems quite complementary.

And be sure to pick up a handy Canadian history guide so you can pass your immigration test.

Jacob’s a busy dude so Ryan made up some suggestions for:

Jacob probably likes to pretend flying planes, and here’s a computerized video game program that simulates just that.

But what’s the point of simulating without the proper controls? Jacob may say you need a yoke… and rudder pedals… and a switch panel… and a radio. Because seriously, do you want to play this game or just pretend to like a punk?

Charlie telepathically told Ryan that he knows you deserve:

A record player that can convert your vinyls to mp3. Is it sacrilege? Maybe. But a backup is a backup.

But if you really want to hear those vinyls you’ll need some Grado Presitge Series SR80i headphones. Also great for recording podcasts, if you know what I mean.

And Ryan thinks everyone ought to have:

I usually suggest at least one comic, and I would be remiss if I did not mention Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. It’s an amazingly imaginative sci-fi/fantasy book that just feels big. Vaughn has an excellent record of quality longform storytelling and Saga is shaping up to be something very special.

But I also think you deserve a drink. Yet I’ve noticed when I visit friends they sometimes lack the basic hardware necessary to put together a fine cocktail. So if you’re hoping to stock your friends (or maybe even your own bar) with the necessities for good mixing, here’s the load-out I suggest:

  • A Boston shaker, 1 30 oz. piece and 1 15 oz. piece. I love the metal on metal seal you just can’t get with glass.
  • A pony/jigger combo. Can handle most any measurement you’ll need for proper proportions.
  • A proper mixing spoon. The twists in the stem help with stirring and you can make swizzles, which are quite fancy.
  • A Julep strainer. Basically a slotted spoon, quite distinct from the more common mesh strainer  The Julep strainer does let a bit more through, so for drinks you really want well strained you might need to strain twice, but I feel like this is a better multitasker, and easier to clean, than the mesh variety.
  • A muddler. Lots of drinks require a good muddling, and then you’ll thank me for the above strainer.
  • Old fashioned glasses. You’ll need something to serve your creation in. There are lots of glasses that could be picked, but I like the versatility of an old fashioned glass. (Although a set of Coupe glasses are also sure to impress any guests.)
  • King cube ice tray. Just in case you have to serve a drink on the rocks instead of up. Remember that whole surface area to volume ratio? Same principle.

Also Patrick pointed out that our old posts concerning solstice gift giving still hold up, so be sure to check those out for additional suggestions. Here’s a list:

Image Credit: zeitspuren


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