10 Unisex Holiday Gifts for the Nerd in Your Life 2016

It can be really hard to find the perfect gift for that nerdy person in your life. Everyone I know would define me as a nerd, but I’m not the kind of person that wants to collect a mountain of pop culture trinkets. This means on the surface, it looks nearly impossible to find a great gift for someone like me under $500. Fear not! To assist you on your quest for the perfect gift, I have compiled a curated list of awesomeness for you!

NES Classic Edition

$79.99 CAD

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Nintendo has given is us nerds a reason to celebrate this holiday season. They created a mini version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System that comes loaded with 30 of that NES’s top games including some of my favourites: Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, PAC-MAN, Final Fantasy, Kirby’s Adventure, Excite Bike and more! The console is updated to work through HDMI on modern TVs and comes with one controller. Additional controllers are available for just $12.99. This is an extremely hot item and may be hard to find.

Buy on Anazon.ca

 


NASA The Grand Tour Poster

$40 USD

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Last year NASA and the creative team of visual strategists at JPL, known as The Studio, worked with 9 artists to create a series of space tourism posters titled “Visions of the Future.” The Grand Tour poster was created but the team at Invisible Creature (a small studio I’ve been following for years) and they are offering a professionally printed version of their poster signed by the artist.

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You can also download FREE print-ready versions of the entire series on NASA / JPL’s website, large enough to create 20″ x 30″ posters of your own.

Buy from Invisible Creature

Download form NASA


League of Movable Type Font Shirts

$29.99 USD

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The Leauge of Moveable Type has been supplying amazing open-source fonts since 2009, including one of my all time favourite fonts Ostrich Sans by Tyler Fink. It’s one of my most used fonts and I’m so stoked to be the nerd sporting it proudly on my torso pants. They have a verity of unisex shirts available that are sure you satisfy the type nerd in your life.

Buy from Leauge of Moveable Type

 


UE Boom 2

$249.99 CAD

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The UE Boom 2 is a beautiful piece of tech. This is by far the best sounding bluetooth speaker I’ve ever used. It projects sound from all sides making this compact gadget a real powerhouse. It’s waterproof and fully submergeable so you don’t need to worry when taking it to the lake or even in the shower. I’ve given multiple gifts from the Ultimate Ears collection over the years (including the UE Boom) and you can never go wrong with their products. Hell, for you nerds out there, you can just tap your android phone to the speaker and it uses NFC to automatically pair the bluetooth for you. Simply beautiful, and it comes in a whole rainbow of colors.

At most retailers if you buy before December 1st you can save $100.

Buy From Amazon.ca

 


Android Wear Smart Watches

As an early adopter I picked up the original Moto 3060 Android Wear smartwatch at launch and I’ve absolutely loved it. Android Wear is smart, functional and works across platforms with Android and iOS devices.

For Him: Nixion Misson – $479.99 CAD

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Smartwatches have been growing in popularity and I’ve been waiting for a major watchmaker to jump into the game. Now we have two! The Fossil Q Founder and the Nixion Mission. I’m in love with the Nixion mission. It has all the markings of great Nixion style and is a fully ruggedised Android Wear watch. It’s even waterproof so you can wear it in the water. It is 100% on my wish list.

Buy from Altitude Sports

For Her: Rose Gold Moto 360 2 – $399.99 CAD

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Continuing their amazing line of Moto 360 watches, the Moto 360 2 is a great Android Wear smartwatch and this Rose Gold beauty is a stunning example of how tech doesn’t have to be ugly.

Buy from Google Store


Field Notes: Lunacy Special Edition Notebooks

$12.95 USD

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I love a good notebook and Field Notes have become the gold standard. Heck, I ran into comedian & podcaster Marc Maron this July in Salt Lake City and he had a Field Notes notebook sticking out of his shirt pocket. We ended up having a great discussion about their creator Aaron Draplin. This limited edition set features three different moon phases and would gift for all the nerd out there.

Buy from Field Notes


code:deck Playing Cards

$8.00 USD

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code:deck is a standard playing card deck but each individual card features a code snippet describing a different programming language. I own a set of these cards and absolutely love them.

Buy from Varinto 25


FreezerBoy Dry-Erase Refrigerator Magnets

$14.99 CAD

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Make that honey do list a a thing of beauty by turning your fridge into a giant game boy. Gamifying your life is a sure fire was to make that nerd in your life a jolly quester.

Buy on Amazon.ca


Twelve South Leather Book Laptop Case

$99.99 CAD

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Embrace your book nerds love of reading with this classy leather laptop case. A great mashup of old world, the hand-crafted leather makes for a sophisticated choice this holiday. It’s also available in an iPad version.

Buy from Amazon.ca


The PancakeBot

$299.99 USD

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Damn right, it’s a digital printer for pancake art! This thing is bad ass. You design your pancake in their software (or grab one of their pre-made designs) toss an SD card in the front with the file, fill it with batter and freaking print your breakfast on its built-in griddle. Can you tell I want one? You have to see this little guy in action.

Pretty sure you will be the coolest parent on the block with this in your kitchen.

Buy from Store Bound

 


 

I hope you enjoyed my gift guide of nerdy goodness. Do you have any suggestions for nerdy holiday gifts? Let me know in the comments!

 


 

High Rotation: 10 Songs That Will Make You Want to Fall in Love

This week in High Rotation were taking a deep dive into my music collection to look at 10 songs that will make you want to fall in love (or at least that make me want to fall in love).  Although there are a few “classic love songs” on the list, what it really focuses around what inspires me to love. The wonder, the struggle, and passion that make us want to be a better version of ourselves.

 

1 . Arkells – 11:11

Oh, 11:11… The first time I heard this song on it was seared in my brain. I must have listened to this some 1,000 times last summer. It’s fun, upbeat, makes me want to dance (when I saw them in January it looked just like the video lol), and for as smooth as it is… just as anxious as me.

I was nervous just standing with you, you were glowing in the dark

I mean if I could choose a way to fall in love, enjoying an evening at a show would be it.


2. Reuben And The Dark – Heart in Two

I made a huge miss when I didn’t include Funeral Sky from Calgary’s Ruben And The Dark in my 5 Albums I Wish You Knew post. Seriously. Buy it. I first encountered their single Heart In Two when I saw them play at the 2015/2016 NHL Face-Off (first game of the season) concert. They only supposed to play three songs and but they snuck this one in and it came across with such passion.

You say reverie came over me – Like fire, like blood, like sunlight

This is not your typical love song, it’s about being lost in their wonder while longing for their presence. Stuck in a daydream.


3. Dashboard Confessional – Remember to Breathe

This a been one of my favourites for a very long time. It’s a conversation I have with myself from time to time. It’s interesting to me that some situations that are simple, so small can mean so much to us. I love this line.

I’m starting to panic, remember she asked you, remember to breathe

So very me. Sometimes we forget the anxiety, the nerves, the butterflies, it tells you your headed in the right direction. If it’s nervous and awkward for both of you, there just might be something real there. Embrace the awkward.


4. Matt Epp & The Amorian Assembly featuring Serena Ryder – When You Know

This wonderful duet between Canadain rockers Matt Epp & Serena Ryder was born from a conversation about how they both “just knew” that has found their one, and it answers the age-old question “How do I know if I’m in love?”

Change man, change man, never be the same man, everything is different when you know

We all long for that moment it just clicks and we know, this is the person I want to spend my life with.


5. Kina Grannis – The One You Say Goodnight To

Love is an inspiring thing. When I’m in love it inspires me to create, to show my passion, and return it in kind. Kina Grannis’s The One You Say Goodnight To is beautiful, it reminds me of Ingrid Michaelson’s The Way I Am and that’s a huge compliment.

Funny thing is I’m trying hard and it’s unlike me to get so caught up in things. But I won’t quit, I won’t quit ’til you smile at me.

If I could be the way to inspire someone like that… there wouls definitely be a smile from ear to ear.


6. You + Me -You and Me

You + Me is the supergroup lovechild of Dallas Green (City and Colour / Alexis on Fire) and Alecia Moore (P!nk). Their skilful lyricism and beautiful harmonies create a vivid picture of what love actually means.

You can be flawed enough but perfect for a person, Someone who will be there for you when you fall apart, Guiding your direction when you’re riding through the dark, Oh that’s you and me


7. Wakey Wakey – Adam & Eve

I can’t have a list about love and not include one of the most passionate artists I know Wakey Wakey. I wish I knew the actual circumstances of this song but Adam & Eve to me it the plea to not run from something real.

You and I are still a seed, Reaching for the sunlight, Pushing up through the rocks and weeds, Trying to grow upright

It’s not the sunshine and rainbows love songs you’re used to, but the beauty of love is in the struggle. The last line is awesome, “I’ll be Adam if you be Eve, you can get me into trouble” lol


8. He Is We & Aaron Gillespie – All About Us

This is one of those songs that makes you want to grab someone and dance. I am a huge fan of He Is We and their collaboration with Aaron Gillespie (Lead for The Almost, Drummer / Vocalist for post-hardcore band Underoath, and touring drummer for Paramore) just sweeten the deal. If I was to pick a first dance song for my wedding, this would be it.

Suddenly, I’m feeling brave. I don’t know what’s got into me, Why I feel this way. Can we dance, real slow? Can I hold you, real close?

Two side notes. 1. I had the pleasure of seeing He Is We live in Columbus, Ohio back in 2012. Lead singer Rachel Taylor suffers from Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis in which there is long-term inflammation of the joints of the spine. That day touring was taking its toll and she was taken to the hospital for treatment. She came from the hospital, sang her heart out, and was immediately taken back to the hospital. Mad respect.

2. This song was re-recorded with Owl City for the Mortal Instruments soundtrack and with hopes of greater radio play… don’t get fooled… it’s nowhere near as good as the Aaron Gillespie version.


9. Marty Sampson – Landslide

This song was extremely hard to find but I’m glad I did. Landslide is from Australian Marty Sampson’s one and only solo album Let Love Rule, he recorded on a break from the Christian youth worship band Hillsong United. This is hands down my favourite song to sing and you will often find me singing it in the shower lol.

Lay by my side, lay your head apon my shoulder tonight, you know its gonig to be alright

Laying awake, looking down while someone you love sleeps cuddled in your arms is one of life’s prefect moments.


10. Relient K – The Best Thing

Sometimes love come along just when we need it, and changes everything. After the year I’ve had, it certainly would be the best thing.

Cause when I looked into your eyes and you dared to stare right back, You should have said, “Nice to meet you, I’m your other half”

Randon Fact: Matt Thiessen used to date Katy Perry and their breakup resulted in a fantastic album lol. Since then he has co-written many songs with Katy and his wife engineered Katy’s album Teenage Dream.


Bonus: Vocal Few – Blue

Time for the bonus round! Blue from husband and wife duo Vocal Few is not a “love me” song, but an I love you so freaking much song. So much that you can’t stand to see their pain, you would rather bear it yourself. Matt (The Classic Crime) & Kristie MacDonald’s ability to capture the realism of marriage from all sides is fantastic. If you ever get the chance to see them live I highly recommend it. I was fortunate enough to see them in a strangers living room a few years ago, and amazing experience.


 

What song makes you want to fall in love? Let me know in the comments and if you have a topic idea for future editions of my music series High Rotation, I would love to hear them.

 


 

High Rotation: 5 Albums I Wish You Knew

Music is a huge part of my life. I love discovering new sounds, songs and experiences. You will often find me in some dingy bar, in the middle of a sweaty crowd, lost in the moment. When I find something wonderful I can’t help sharing it with others, so welcome to my new post series High Rotation where I will share some of my favourite artists, albums and tracks. Moving forward each article will be focus around a single subject, musical concept or genre but for today. Here are 5 albums that I wish you knew. 


Wakey Wakey – Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You…

I’ve been a fan of Wakey Wakey since their 2009 EP War Sweater, but I’ve listened to their 2010 album Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You… front to back, every single week since its release 2010. Packed with passionate ballads and indy anthems, each track on the album carries a distinct yet familiar sound. A heavy focus on piano and violin give a soaring, almost cinematic feel to the album.

For the One Tree Hill fans out there you may notice frontman Michael Grubbs. He played “Grubbs” in the series and many of Wakey Wakey’s original songs were featured in the show.

My favourite tracks: Almost Everything, Car Crash, Dance So Good, Light Outside.

Buy or Stream The Album


PUP – The Dream Is Over

Toronto’s Pup has quickly become my go-to band. Half punk, half folk rock – their blend of driving guitars, gang vocal harmonies and satirical lyricism create an experience like no other. After the release of their self-titled debut album than band toured hard resulting in lead singer Stefan Babcock severely damaging his vocal chords. When his doctor told him “The Dream Is Over” their 2016 sophomore album was born.

The diversity of their musicality and lyricism put The Dream Is Over on the short list or the coveted Polaris Music Prize. The Polaris Music Prize is awarded annually to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label.

My favourite tracks: Seriously all of them, but if I have to pick. Can’t Win, Familiar Patterns, Pine Point, If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You I Will, DVP

Buy or Stream The Album


Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People

English post-hardcore turned folk singer-songwriter legend Frank Turner is one of my all time favourites. I can honestly recommend his entire discography and it’s honest, raw, passionate wisdom. His 2015 album Positive Songs For Negative People is extremely important to me as I can honestly say it got me through the turmoil of the last year and looking forward to the next chapter.

I had the pleasure of meeting Frank at a show earlier this year and I made sure to thank him for his art. He pulled me close, gave me a big hug and said: “the storm has passed, better days will come.” I look forward to seeing Frank for the 5th time in February when he comes through with Canadain rockers The Arkells.

My favourite tracks: Get Better, The Next Storm, Mittens, Song For Josh

Buy or Stream The Album


The Lighthouse and The Whaler – This is an Adventure

In 2013 I fell in love with the album This is an Adventure from Cleveland’s The Lighthouse and The Whaler. It’s bright, high energy, melodic folk-rock that will have you singing along before the first track is complete. Venice is a track you can listen to a hundred times and discover something new every time.

My favourite tracks: Venice, Pioneers, Little Vessels, We’ve Got The Most

Buy or Stream The Album


Right Away, Great Captain! – The Church of the Good Thief

Right Away, Great Captin! is an acoustic side project by Manchester Orchestra’s lyricist and frontman Andy Hull. The Church of the Good Theif is the third and final release from his solo project the follows the journey of a 17th-century sailor. “The third story/album starts with our hero laying over Anna’s lover (and hero’s brother). The brother has been killed. His wife has seen what the children saw and we spend a lot of time inside our hero’s mind and the reality that he is indeed a murderer of his own flesh and blood.”

Put your headphones on, press play and escape into Andy’s masterful lyrics and passionate performance. If you love Manchester Orchestra style, incredible folk music, or angelic voices – this one if for you.

My favourite tracks:When I Met Death, I Am Aware, Blame, 

Buy or Stream The Album


 

What underrated albums do you wish more people knew? Do you have a topic suggestion for future articles? Let me know in the comments.

 

When You ❤️ Love & 😬 Dating : A Recipe For Awkward

Navigating the world of dating is a lot like space travel. We know it’s possible, there have been great successes, but most of our attempts end in catastrophic failure. We’re faced with constant indecision, mountains of self-doubt, and somehow we’ve been tasked with tearing down the walls people have built around themselves. Despite the looming clouds above, we press on through the wind and the waves in search of the light.

The following is a collection of short thoughts compiled over the last year. They cover various aspects of love & dating but are not necessarily related to each other.

Society Tells Me I’m Broken

I’ve never really been that man that popular culture says we are, and I’m thankful for that. As a single man in my early 30’s I constantly feel more and more enraged with the words and actions of my own gender. I keep thinking if this is what women knows, that they expect. I certainly don’t fit in.

  1. Sow your oats young man.  I have married friends that are on a mission to cheat on their wives. Sometimes I feel like they only want to hang out so they have an outlet to hit on other women. As someone that chooses to be militantly faithful, I can’t understand why others can’t “man up and step up”. Someone choose to invest their life in you and it’s your duty to invest in them. Half the energy you spend avoiding your marriage would go a long way to building it. My single male friends that ask me questions like “Why don’t you just fuck the loose Tinder bitches like the rest of us?” Personally, I’m not one for “locker room talk” in fact, it really makes me want to punch people in the face. I constantly feel chastised because I’m not trying to add notches to my bedpost like it’s a video game. Sorry, but I’m not into creating a wake of hurt.
  2. The laws of attraction. Most men long for summer where bikinis reign supreme, I long for cardigans in the autumn air. (Why yes, I did notice your cute sweater. Indeed, I should’ve told you) Each to their own but I find tasteful modesty attractive in both dress and attitude. There is something magical to me about a woman that doesn’t feel like she needs to put it all out there all the time. I’m attracted to you, not your cleavage.
  3. Love like the movies. To both my credit, and my downfall I have a 16-year-old view of love. I do believe that love can be amazing, that magical moments exist and ultimately people are good. I believe it’s your duty to win you lovers heart every day in whether it a grand gesture or doing the dishes. Hey, there is no reason why you can’t take a helicopter to a mountain top picnic just because it’s Wednesday… and Wednesdays suck.
  4. Failure to launch. For a lot of men it’s easy, but asking a woman on a date or even asking for a phone number is incredibly difficult for me. The reason is two-fold. First, I am incredibly shy one-on-one. Something that has grown exponentially over the last year and a half, I’m working on it slowly, but for now… I really need to know you first. Secondly, I go out of my way to not inconvenience others. I never want to be that asshole hitting on a girl that is just trying to have fun with their friends, or give someone anxiety about how to reply. I’m stressed just writing about this.

Yes, I’m a man. I love sex, have a dirty mind, and desire the company of a good woman. I also value respect, dignity, and context. There is a time and a place for everything. Yet, I don’t fit in with the guys, and I can’t help but feel like I’m broken.


Lessons From A Tinder Dropout

Since it’s launch Tinder intrigued me. My life has not taken a typical dating path, and I’ve always been in long term relationships so I was curious what it’s like. Would anyone swipe right for me? What kind of person swipes right for me?  Is it possible to find something real on Tinder? So when I felt like I might be ready to date again I signed up, crafted a bio, curated my photo gallery and sent it to masses, so strangers could quietly judge my worth.

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My actual Tinder profile with bio version 2.0

I wouldn’t say that I struck out on Tinder per say. I had quite a few matches (I just installed the app to take the screenshot and still have 5 matches after months of inactivity) but I can’t say that any of them turned into actually meeting someone in real life. After a month or so of jumping down the rabbit hole, I decided to retire Tinder. Here are some insights from my journey in the Tinderverse.

Why I didn’t swipe right for you

  • Your photos look like a Where’s Waldo book. In a context where you are given so little to go on, photos are important. I want to see you and your personality.
  • Your photos span a massive timeline. Your profile should be about who you are, not who you were. My personal rule of thumb was to only use photos taken in the last year. Yes, I was skinnier two years ago but it’s not relevant now.
  • All of your photos contained alcohol or drugs.
  • Your photos portrayed smoking or heavy drug use (yes there was many).
  • You didn’t fill in a bio. If I have nothing to go on, our conversation is going nowhere.
  • Your bio was overly pompous or the first word was tattoos. Hey, I like tattoos too but if you’re not a tattoo artist they shouldn’t define you.
  • The quality of your photos made you seem like a bot or phishing scheme.
  • Your profile didn’t lead me to believe that we would have an interesting conversation.

Why I didn’t message you when we matched

  • When I reviewed your profile a second time I questioned what I was thinking the first time.
  • Upon review, your bio lacked enough information to have a real conversation.
  • My personal anxiety created a situation where I didn’t feel like talking then, but as a result, too much time had passed and I didn’t want you to think you were plan-b.

Why I unmatched you

  • I was always forced to lead the conversation.
  • You took too long to message back. Usually, 48 hours at first and timeline varies after initial contact based on the context of the conversation.
  • You avoided simple questions about yourself. If I’m going to meet you, I need to know something about you.
  • You seemed uninterested in learning about me.

How not to talk to women on Tinder

  • DO NOT seem genuinely interested in who they are or what they do. The more genuine you try to be on Tinder, the more people think you’re a creep. Even though their bio says “absolutely no hookups”, the majority of Tinder matches are expecting you to throw yourself at them.
  • DO NOT start a conversation with anything you would normally start a conversation with. You want to start with an interesting question or if you’re the brave type, a horribly bad pickup line.

Tinder was an interesting world I can say that. I know a lot of my list is superficial and subjective, but that’s exactly what Tinder is. I could tell our world was heading this direction when back in the 90’s every chat rooms conversation started with ASL????? The online conversation game annoyed me then, and the AOL chatroom has been reborn in Tinder.

Tinder isnt for me because I’m not into playing the field, I play for keeps.


There are two more sections I excluded for length. If you enjoy my ramblings about love & dating leave a comment below and I will consider posting them soon.

What are your experiences with online dating?

Have you had success? Failure?