Five Geek ways to celebrate Boxing Day

25 December 2012 by Steve Blum
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Like a calm, sunny morning after a hurricane, Boxing Day is a time to wallow in the luxury of nothing so urgent to do as yesterday and dream of the future without worrying about tomorrow.

Some don’t look at it that way, preferring instead to run frantically around the beach tidying up. Let them be.

The day after Christmas is a day off work in much of the erstwhile British Empire, originally an occasion to give gifts to people who work for you: a Christmas box of hand-me-down clothes and left over food bestowed on grateful servants by the lord of the manor.

But few of us have servants, grateful or otherwise, and holiday bonuses come as direct deposits with taxes and withholdings neatly trimmed out. So we can relax and enjoy a day with no particular obligations except those we choose to savor.

For me, it’s a chance to achieve inner peace through simple Geek pleasures.

  • Play with a new language. Whatever it is – Python, php, Pascal – hack at it until you grok.
  • Read space opera. Whether it’s the rigor of Alastair Reynolds, the omnipotence of David Weber or the pulp nostalgia of Doc Smith, embrace the guilty pleasure of star spanning adventure with a thick book in a quiet place.
  • Ride a bike to the shopping center, cruise around back and see what’s being thrown out. You never know where your next big idea will come from.
  • Transform a gift. Take a screwdriver to an old gizmo, reverse engineer it and make it do something new. Turn a digital frame into a weather station, a talking doll into a remote control, a Princess phone into a zombie detector. Then give it to a friend with a sense of humor.
  • Show a kid how to make a crystal radio. The hardest part is finding a kid with a sufficient attention span. If you can, the sense of wonder at building working electronics by hand with raw materials will last a lifetime. For both of you.

Happy holidays, and may the Great Bird of the Galaxy bring serenity to your planet!