Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Geek Gift List that Won't Break Your Bank

I know it's very close to Christmas, but if you're still doing your shopping and you have a geek or two to gift, I have a list for you.  So many gift lists for geeks are expensive and most people think geek and equate that with high-priced technology.  I'm here to tell you there are many wonderful things any geeky gal or guy would love.  Here are some.

Before I begin, actually, I'd like to say, in full disclosure that I am not paid by anyone mentioned here, nor have I been given any products.  Any products by these people that I own were bought by me.  I am speaking from consumer experience only.

1.  Let's just start with the Geek Toy mecca:

They have an abundance of super things to choose from including t-shirts that range from $16 to $19 and cover every bent of geekdom:  manga, math and science, computer techie, gamers etc.  They also carry one of the most comprehensive inventories of weird and wonderful geek toys and gadgets like plush microbes and tribbles, trebuchets, magnetic cannons, slide rulers, office monkeys, I could go on and on.  And right now they have a Holiday Gift Guide so you can choose by price or category.

Everything you see here costs less than $40, most of it ranges at $20.

2.  I've never known a geek who didn't have a penchant for soda or USB devices.  How about a USB mini fridge?  These run in the range of $15 to $30 depending on the brand you buy.  Granted some people complain about the cooling power on these.  Here's the skinny, they keep an already can cool and are able to cool a room temp can but that takes quite awhile.  Let me just say that most of my codemonkey friends were getting their soda from a machine or the office provided cans in a fridge.  Keeping it cool at your desk = awesome.  Besides who wouldn't want one of these on their desks just to say they have one on their desks?
These can be found on or or at many local big box computer stores.

3.  Speaking of soda.  Here's one that is so simple that many people don't even think of it.  Buy a case of your geek's favorite soda.  He or she will love you, I promise.

4.  Building your own electronics is pretty damn cool.  There are some basic tools you can get for this at very reasonable prices.  Take the multimeter - a device for measuring voltage, current and resistance.  Just this tool alone will bring hours of enjoyment for the electronically inclined.  You can get this in a fairly standard digital version for $15
Or you could go fancy for about $50
Or your best bet: buy them a kit to build one themselves for $20!
Check your local electronics store or online stores like

5.  A couple of other great electronics gifts you could get are a solder vacuum ($5), soldering iron ($10), solder lead ($10), soldering iron stand ($6), head lamp ($10 - $20), MAKE magazine subscriptions (1 year print $35, or 1 year digital only $20), or gift cards to online electronics stores so they can build up their parts inventory.  Also, a lot of electronic geeks out there are getting into Arduino, check out some fun things using Arduino at  You can buy kits, chips, and all sorts of electronic accessories for prices ranging from $5 to $100 or more.

6.  Back to the idea of soda.  Your geeky friend is probably a munchie junkie on top of loving soda.  A gift basket of munchie foods will be applauded.  If you're worried about the health of your geeky junkie, fill the basket with healthier options like juice, crackers, popcorn, they'll still love you.

7.  Don't forget coffee.  All geeks practically live on coffee.  In fact, let's just say that the four food groups for most geeks are:  soda, chips, coffee and coffee.  Don't think you have to go off half-cocked in the wind with your budget on this one either.  It doesn't take a giant 220V machine to make a great cup.  Bodum's been proving that wrong for years now.  As for espresso and latte, try stove-top moka pots ($10 to $40) for the espresso lover, or Mr. Coffee and Capresso both have machines in the $25 to $50 range that get high reviews on Amazon.

8.  For geeks that aren't translucent from being inside 24/7, you know the outdoorsy, hiking camping type, here are some great things you can shower them with.  A firesteel
costs around $12.  A self powered radio with solar power and cell phone charger costs around $35.  Or an outdoor kitchen set that includes things like portable cutting board, collapsible spatulas and spoons, small spice jars and s&p shakers can be found for around $40.  Or how about a set of two collapsible stainless steel wine glasses for $25 or stainless stemless wine glasses for $20?  You could throw in a bottle of wine if you felt inclined to spend a little more.

9.  For the girl geek specifically, check out for great computer parts turned jewelry.  You'll find circuit board necklaces, capacitor earrings, and all sorts of geeky fun.  Just search computer jewelry, electronics jewelry or circuit jewelry.  Prices start as low as $5.

10.  Any geek loves his dry erase or chalk board.  These can be bought new in many ranges, or what I did was buy a used chalk board and repainted it with chalk board spray paint.  If you're handy enough, you could paint some board (chipboard or other appropriate medium), frame it and voila you've made one yourself.  Don't forget they need supplies for their boards.  So you could buy chalk or dry erase pens for great prices too!

Well, hope this helps.  Now go make a geek glow with happiness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ten Links Tuesday and Poetry Friday

1.  Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf?  I just ran into this idea the other day.  It sounds fun.

2.  I'm a day late making the Jello play dough for our Advent activities.  Oops.

3.  A word for Poetry Friday:  frost.

4.  Have you ever noticed that gift lists for the geeks in your life are riddled with rather expensive things?  I was thinking of making a geek gift list for those of us who love our tech-addicted geeks but still have budgets.

5.  I have done handmade gifts for the past few years.  It is fun and it promotes a less commercial side to holidays.  However, this year time ran out on me.  I'm becoming much more at ease with convenience as I get older.  Perhaps I am moving past that sense that I have to be the perfect mother.
(image found at

Which is nice.  Since I'm not perfect.  Seriously.

6.  I am off in search of Borax today.  We're making snowflakes for today's activity.  You know, I've never made crystals?  It seems like it's a staple of most childhoods, and yet somehow it eluded me.  So I guess today's activity is as much for me as for the twins.

7.  My grandmother always gave everyone socks for Christmas.  It wasn't the only gift she gave, but it was her tradition.  These were usually not your run-of-the-mill socks.  They were crazy.  I always waited eagerly to see what fabulous abomination of socks she would send.  I loved them all.  I couldn't let this tradition go away, so I'm picking up her torch and sending out some fun socks I hope are worthy of my grandmother's memory.

8.  Continuing with the sock theme, I'm making dino-socks for the twins for their sock gifts.  How fun is that?

9.  I have a Christmas playlist.  It sounds nothing like the stores.  Why do they always play the same things over and over?  There are so many great Christmas songs out there like Relient K's 12 Days of Christmas (believe me, it's not the traditional song), or The Feature's Father Christmas, or Barenaked Ladies' Footprints.  Actually Barenaked Ladies whole album Barenaked for the Holidays is great.

10.  What is your favorite Christmas movie?  I think I'd have to go with a 'Capra-corn' classic, It's a Wonderful Life.  But I would say that Love, Actually and A Christmas Story run a close second.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poetry Friday Word

Guess what's happening on Friday?  Sherlock Holmes a Game of Shadows releases.  Guess what we're going to be doing?  Having a date night!  Oh yeah.

And, do you know what else?

It's Tuesday.  Last week worked so well with the word announced on Tuesday instead of Wednesday that I'd like to do it again.

Let's mash up Friday date and Friday word...and use...SHADOWS.

There you go.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Poetry Friday: Party

I have three sections for today's post.  First a poem.

background music

hubbub in the room
behind the door
she flounces through
blatantly pink and sufficiently glittered
she holds the party
on the tip of her finger
her spellbound laughter
draws the room inward
she is the background music
the open window of air
they're all caught in her pupils
locked in to her
every movement flows
like newspaper in the wind

Second a photo montage.

Pajama Party

Dance Party

Cocktail Party

Political Party

Geek Party

Third a video.

Philadelphia Story Jimmy Stewart and Carey Grant

(It was pointed out to me that the video I had posted wasn't working - use this link instead.  Sorry about that.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Name that Character

My biggest hang up as a writer is naming my characters.  Nothing stops me faster or longer than introducing a new character.  Suddenly it becomes paramount to find the perfect name.  I think about the character, what fits the image in my head, I research names on baby naming sites.  I have spent days looking for the perfect name for even minor characters.  My last manuscript still doesn't have a name for, guess who, my main protagonist no less.  But, when I hit on the one that feels right it sticks.  In the manuscript I'm currently writing, my main character had his name long before I wrote the first sentence.

In most cases, I don't feel comfortable continuing with a story until whatever character I'm working with has a name.  I had a name for my main character in the first manuscript and three-quarters of the way through the book realized it was annoying to read.  That's a major problem.  The last thing you want to do is turn off your readers with a name.  That goes for naming just about anything I think - a character, a place, the book itself.  I'll bet you've read a book that irritated you because a name used often enough tripped your tongue every time you read it.  Even an astounding book will suffer that way.

I've experienced writer's block for plot only once or twice.  This may or may not be a positive sign, I prefer to look at it as positive.  I usually know where I'm headed.  However, naming things just waves a red flag into my brain and stops the train dead.

I've been thinking about this problem and wishing I could build a repository of pre-thought out characters with full backgrounds and names.  The problem with an approach like that is that the character has to fit the story and incidentally the world you're describing.  It might work to modify a character into the story but that seems so forced.  Characters have a habit of popping out of nowhere and demanding to be given their spotlight.  I prefer to allow this freedom, it perpetuates creativity.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Wednesday again

It seems I have only time for Poetry Friday posts right now.  I'm busy busy with my Christmas to-do list, and enjoying every minute of it.  I just love Christmas.  We put up the tree this weekend and the kids had a blast putting on the ornaments.  It's snowing outside today and supposed to snow all week.  Could a romantic like me ask for more in December?  Doubt it.

(oops I forgot to upload this)

My husband told me last week that my poems are all sad.  This week I'm going to attempt to write something more upbeat.  We'll see.  In that vein then, I'm thinking we could use a word that at least leans that way.  Like party.  Yeah PARTY!

P.S. You may have noticed that blogger so kindly shows the date I post and yet my mind had so made up that it was Wednesday it completely ignored blogger's kind reminder.  But yes, today is Tuesday.  So the title of my post is a blatant lie.  For shame, for shame.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Poetry Friday: Sore

I'm putting up two entries for this Friday's poetry post.  The first is a short free verse and the second is a Haiku in the english haiku tradition (based on syllables).  The word for this week is sore.  

No Rainbow

Doctors diagnosed
Mr. Earth, contracted
Planetary Fatal Disease,
call it PFD.
They say it's carried
in the human parasite
causing sore trees and fevered waters
oozing of foul colored liquids
and onslaught of extinction.
Have you seen the sky burning?
That's no rainbow, that's radiation.


vehemence of faith
throbbing pain of a sore tooth
gnawing at their gums