Friday, December 4, 2015

Gift Giving Guide 2015

It's that time of year.  This is Abavus's First Annual Gift Guide.

These are items that I have used in the real world over the past year.  Some are nerdy/gamy, Many are not.  They are in no particular order.  I am linking to whichever store I find convenient; in many cases this is Amazon, but in many cases not.

1. TYR Small Alliance Backpack - When I started my new job earlier this year, the hike from the parking lot to my desk increased about 50x.  The old reusable grocery bag that I used to toss my lunch, coffee thermos, sunglasses, whatever was not going to cut it.  I experimented with an old laptop backpack, but found that I really wanted a smaller bag with fewer internal partitions.  This model by TYR is comfortable for 1-arm carry, has enough room for all my crap, and was cheaper than a lot of options (Jansport).  It is intended for Triathlons and as such many of the pockets are vented (so be warned if you are in an area that rains constantly) but the inside is roomy and the cloth is reasonably stiff to hold its shape while loading.

2. Contigo Travel Mug - Also after starting the new job, I wanted/needed a new travel mug.  My old 40's style monster thermos was too bulky to try to carry and deal with getting in and out of the building.  A friend recommended this model crom Contigo; it keeps my coffee hot through mid-day but isn't gawdaful bulky, looks great, and is spillproof.  (I had to use mine a week or so before the 'plastic' taste disappeared from my coffee).

3. X-Wing - Let your inner nerd fly.  Jump into the new ships with the updated version of the smash hit tabletop game from Fantasy Flight.  You'll want more ships than come in the core box - Millenium Falcon in particular is very sexy.  But the core game gets you started. The ships are great, and the combat system is simple to grasp but difficult to master.

4. Duluth Trading Fire Hose Work Pants - Santa brought me a pair of these last year, and I put another pair on this year's list.  They're comfortable, breathable, warm enough for cool weather work.  If I'm out in the back 40 running a chainsaw, this is the pair of pants I grab for both comfort and a little added protection.

5. Amazon Fire TV - We have an older (2006) flat panel TV that I'm hoping to get another several years out of.  It doesn't have any built in streaming options and few modern niceties, but it does have a single HDMI port, and we recently signed up for Amazon Prime.  This little box makes streaming content from Amazon dirt simple.  Abavus can now watch Downton Abby on the big screen instead of the laptop, woot.

6. Jim Butcher's the Aeronaut's Windlass - The first of a series of (hopefully) many many box, Jim's first foray into fantasy steampunk is a great read for cold winter nights.  It's got great airship combat, reasonable characterization, and if you're a cat owner you're going to love Rowl.

7. Nike's Dry Fit Cotton Socks - Yes, Socks for Christmas, how original.  Working in an office for the past (almost) 20 years, I've usually worn the kind of dress socks like dad and grandpa had - the thin, nasty little argyle life suckers.  Earlier this year I flipped those kinds of socks the bird for everyday office wear and switched to athletic style black socks for all but the most formal of occasions.  These Nike's are the most comfortable I've tried. Life is too short to walk around all day in stupid socks.

8. Zombicide: Season 2 Prison Break - Disclaimer: I don't actually own this, but played on a friend's set at a nerd gathering this summer.  Super fun co-op board game that keeps you jumping, requires some thinking and group strategy, and hilarity when it all goes pear shaped and someone gets their brains eaten.  The only reason I haven't bought it is that Mrs. Durden got me into the kickstarter for the newer version for my birthday.

10. EVE: Source - Reading this book made me remember a lot of details I'd forgotten since launch.  The book has some great art, but is more of a sourcebook for lore and backstory on the major factions (including the piratical ones).  Good reading for an EVE player.

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