Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A volcano lover's gift guide

Once again, it is that time of the year - when the smell of baked goods and mulled wine floats through the air, jingly music comes from a speaker somewhere, and you can hear the crackling of a fire and the roar of a volcano... uh, what?
Just as to any volcano lover, volcano-y gifts are the icing on the holiday cake to me. So I thought I'd put together a list of awesome volcano-related gift ideas*, and share them with you. If you're not interested in gifts, but would like the take a super quick survey about science blogging, go ahead and scroll to the end.

  1. Based on my personal experience, volcano-lovers more often than not also love games. Why not give them a deck of Volcano Top Trump cards? Guaranteed volcano-battling-fun for all ages, and awesome for your bank account too - they come for only £4.99 (distributed through the University of Plymouth, click here)!
  2. For those who are more passive admirers than active players, a volcano calendar might be just the right thing. Pleasing to the eye, fascinating to the scientifically curious mind, and delivering a little bit of (imaginary) heat to any living room, volcano calendars are awesome because your volcano-inclined friend needs a new one every year! They usually come at a reasonable price, have all sorts of shapes and sizes, and may come with captions in different languages. They even come in your favourite currency! One example for €17 can be ordered here, or another one for $17.99 here.
  3. Going back to games, just because most of us have their inner child available somewhere. Did you know that my favourite board game of all times, Settlers of Catan, comes with an optional volcano tile?? This highly exciting variation of the game promises to add just the right level of excitement for all the risk takers among us. Apparently it can be bought as part of the Atlantis Scenario Extension (only in German, as far as I'm aware), or if you're looking for a cheaper option you can simply download and print the volcano tile from here.
  4. Feeling slightly cheeky? I highly recommend a selection of volcano-y movies for the not so serious volcano-phile. Among my all-time favourites are of course Dante's Peak (Pierce Brosnan), Volcano (Tommy Lee Jones), and the original Journey to the Center of the Earth (admittedly only somewhat volcano-related). One that I haven't seen but might add to my list is St. Helens, and one that I definitely would not recommend at all is Pompeii. But that's just me... Once you've picked your candidate, you can just buy a DVD if you want a simple present, or design a whole evening around a home screening of your volcano movie of choice. Maybe even accompanied by a freshly baked lava cake?
  5. Speaking of lava cake. A mouthwatering chocolate lava cake says more than a thousand words. I haven't tested this particular recipe, but it sounds temptingly simple.
  6. If you accidentally left your chocolate lava cake in the oven for too long, do not despair! You can always leave it in a bit longer and later gift it as a beautiful volcanic rock sample, with your own description of formation added... If you'd rather go the conventional route, a nice piece of volcanic rock from a volcano of your choice will let any semi-serious geo-enthusiast's heart beat faster. Volcanic rocks can be incredibly diverse and astonishingly beautiful. If you don't have a volcano as a source for your rock gifts in your backyard, you could order some rock kits that include igneous (= volcanic rocks from above and below the surface) samples here or here. Of course, if you found the sample yourself, you can add a little description with your story that goes with it. And maybe you were lucky enough to find a snowflake obsidian, or one of those beautiful banded, glassy volcanic rhyolites?
  7. While we're talking about geosciences: Somebody more interested in practical gifts and with a knack for popular science might enjoy a digital edition of a magazine themed around volcanoes. You can order a (German) digital collection about volcanoes and earthquakes by Spektrum der Wissenschaft for €4.99 here, or maybe Alex Witze's book about the Laki eruption in Iceland in 1783?
  8. On the topic of books: John Mullan at The Guardian put together this list of volcano-related fiction books. Even though I would question the appearance of Lord of the Rings on the list, overall it sounds like some of the suggestions might be really good reads! Or if you're looking for something for a little one, maybe this list by Jenni Barclay over at the University of East Anglia will give you some inspiration.
  9. Know someone who isn't too shy to display their volcano enthusiasm? Surprise them with a volcano-y piece of clothing! There are these cool looking (but somewhat pricey) volcano hoodies/sweaters/tank tops, or some cute handmade volcano and dinosaur onesies, or even a volcano-print catsuit!
  10. Last but not least, the crown jewel of volcano gifts - probably somewhat out of most people's regular holiday price range... a trip to a volcano! If you're in Europe you might want to go to Stromboli (Italy) to see its fireworks, if you're in North or South America maybe a trip to Popocatepetl or Colima (Mexico) to spot their ash clouds, from Asia you could hop over to Sakurajima (Japan) to see its almost daily explosions, if you find yourself in Oceania take the plane/boat/helicopter to White Island (New Zealand) to see some phreatic (= water/steam related) eruptions, or if for some magical reason you happen to be in Antarctica you could try to get a view into the lava lake at Erebus Volcano. So many options, not enough time (or money).
Hopefully I've managed to inspire your imagination and give you lots of awesome volcano-y gift ideas. Obviously there are lots of possibilities, so if you think of something amazing that I didn't mention feel free to comment or shoot me a message.

Lastly, I've teamed up with Science Borealis, Dr. Paige Jarreau from Louisiana State University and 20 other Canadian science bloggers, to conduct a broad survey of Canadian science blog readers. Together we are trying to find out who reads science blogs in Canada, where they come from, whether Canadian-specific content is important to them and where they go for trustworthy, accurate science news and information. Your feedback will also help me learn more about my own blog readers. 

It only take 5 minutes to complete the survey. Please, please, please, take the survey here:

If you complete the survey you will be entered to win one of eleven prizes! A $50 Chapters Gift Card, a $20 surprise gift card, 3 Science Borealis T-shirts and 6 Surprise Gifts! PLUS everyone who completes the survey will receive a free hi-resolution science photograph from Paige's Photography! 

This is one of the photos I got :)
Credit: Paige Jarreau

*Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the vendors, nor do I make any profit by writing this list. I just like volcanoes :)