Gift guide!

So the holidays are rapidly approaching! And you have no idea what gifts to give your loved ones. Neither do I, but I do have an idea of the kinds of gifts I’d like to receive (hint, hint). So here it is, the first ever, Take it to the Bridge’s holiday (or year-round) gift guide!!

Purkinje Cell - G.Dunn


I love pencils. I think they make the ideal writing/drawing implement and love the feel of them on the page, especially soft dark pencils. Plus I always feel I take better notes and write better outlines when using pencil. I would be happy with a box of 4B Palominos. I also hear that their revived Blackwing 602‘s are nifty. That should keep me well stocked for the upcoming grant and manuscript writing season. Also, if you’re into pens and other writing implement also be sure to check out this other awesome online store that sells Japanese writing implements.


Of course a nice pencil deserves nice paper. I love taking notes on graph paper, reminds me of my pimply-teen D&D playing phase. These French note pads are silky smooth and cool looking. I’ve never tried the notebooks, but they look like they have potential.


I’ve been lusting for this book, “Cajal’s Butterflies of the Soul”, since I saw it at the Society for Neuroscience meeting. I didn’t buy it because  I didn’t feel like lugging it around the convention center or carrying it all the way back home (its a big book). I reproduces amazing hand-drawn images of neurons from the 19th and early 20th century. It is beautifully produced and a joy to look at.

Big Neurons

This dude, Greg Dunn, is a neuroscience graduate student who makes beautiful large-scale paintings of neurons in his spare time (grad students have spare time?).  He usues a style that reminds me of traditional Asian painting. The paintings seem to be by commission but he also sells prints. Maybe I’ll get some pyramidal cells for my office.


Not sure why I want this. But wouldn’t it be fun to have a nice refurbished manual typewriter to mess around with? Every time I write using a different medium I come up with different ideas and perspectives. This would just add to the mix. Plus I think my daughter would also get a kick out of this.

Model Rockets

I’m not sure these are even legal in my state, but I’ve had this urge to assemble some model rockets and fire them off. We used to do this when I was a kid (we being my cousins and I) and had a lot of fun. I remember spending weeks carefully assembling and decorating them, and then losing half of them, especially when we retrofitted them with a much to0-large fuel cylinders. Somehow they seem to have  lost popularity, or maybe not, I just don’t amble upon those circles any more.

Paper Craft

A few years ago I saw these little Japanese kits to make robots out of paper. The kind you cut, build, glue and assemble. They seemed a bit pricy and somehow I didn’t get them. But then recently I saw a whole book with a bunch of little monsters you could cut, and assemble, each cooler than the last. I didn’t buy it because my kids were screaming about one thing or another, and in the chaos I left the store without buying it.


OK, so I already have one of these, but it would make a great gift if I didn’t. I bought one of these amplifiers that allow you to record neural signals from cockroach legs (and maybe from other critters) for one of my classes, and the activity was a big hit. The maker, Backyard Brains, are always working to improve their boxes and come up with new experiments.


No, it’s not what it sounds like. A strumstick is a stringed musical instrument apparently similar to a mountain dulcimer. The frets are set such that it only plays a major scale, and it only has three strings. So if you press any fret on any string, you will always generate a pleasing sound when you strum all three strings, so no matter what you do, it always sounds cool. It looks like it would be a lot of fun to play.

Coffe Crisps

Canadians do a lot of things right. But the best thing they’ve got going for them are the awesomest candy bar known as a Coffee Crisp. Imagine a Kit Kat on steroids and dunked in a cup of espresso. That’s a Coffe Crisp. Light, airy, crunchy and coffee-y chocolate. Everyone I know has a standing order that if they ever go to Canada they must return with Coffee Crisps.


Why the hell not? Wouldn’t you like to learn to throw a boomerang? Just make sure its a lefty one.

So there you have it. Now you know what gift to give me… if you ever feel so compelled. What kinds of things do you like?

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10 Responses to Gift guide!

  1. Thank goodness someone else share’s my secret obsession for pencils. Thanks to my father being an engineer, he passes on to me his spares from drafting sets for use.

  2. Natalie says:

    The only thing I’ve gotten my husband for Christmas is an antique Boston pencil sharpener – one that mounts directly to the wall. I nice companion gift for the pencil loving among us.

  3. geeka says:

    I have a boomerang. I also looked at getting a strumstick, but I opted for a mandolin instead, mostly because I didn’t like the music that was available, and I don’ t want to have to transpose the music for the strumstick.

  4. for me it’s not pencils, but dip-pens. Nibs, ink and lovely paper? The only way to top that is with sealing wax, even if the seal almost always arrives at its destination destroyed by the postal service.

  5. palmd says:

    I share you’re desire for a typewriter. I am unfortunately old enough to have typed up my med school applications for which i bought a relatively inexpensive electric typewriter.
    I’m also old enough that my 7th grade typing class was done on big honkin’ maunals. That’s the kind i want.

    As for coffee crisps, i don’t share the obsession, but many of my friends do, and here on the frontiere we have easy access to them. I always stock up on candy in canada.

  6. Matechik says:

    Strumsticks are cool. However, the ease ease of use that results from it being tuned to a major scale, also limits what the instrument can do. If you are into unique music, check out my blog,

  7. Pingback: Holiday Chickens | Take it to the Bridge

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