4 great games to give your friends this Christmas


With Christmas just around the corner, people seem to forget about everything and start rushing into holiday traditions, spend irrational amounts of money on gifts, and give charity one more try.

Just like other millions of people around the globe, I am also a Christmas enthusiast, from cheesy season sweaters to make the Christmas tree, spending time with family and friends, and buying all sorts of ornaments that remind us of how much consumerism there is in this world.

Nevertheless, once the tummies are full and the throats are warm thanks to the massive amounts of mulled wine, boredom seems to kick in most of the houses. So why not make things a little bit more fun while waiting for Santa?

If you haven’t picked your Christmas presents for your friends yet, maybe it is high time you gave a look these fun games to play that everyone will love.

Christmas-related board games

There are numerous board games that can bring joy, smiles, laughter, and rivalries between friends during the holiday season. So why not indulge in some with a Christmas theme like the popular Santa Claus Game? Full disclosure – it also requires for you to sing a carol once in a while, so we suggest trying that eggnog priorly.

Another great board game will feature your favorite reindeers – Rudolph, Hermey, and Cornelius, trying to save some misfit toys before the Christmas day.

Christmas Bingo game

Even if you’re in your 20s, this doesn’t mean you cannot play bingo like a pro. And if it also comes with a free printable board especially for Christmas, I say you should give it a try.

The more the merrier, so make sure to engage all your friends in trying to finish the bingo board first. You can reward each winner with special Christmas treats and add some eggnog shots in the process as well. Have I already mentioned you can print the gameboard for free? This means all you have to do is bring in the stamps, preferably Christmas editions too.

Carol-singing games

What would be Christmas without your friends’ pathetic attempts to sing Christmas carols? If you have a few enthusiasts in the group, it is time to bring them joy as well and challenge them to a game called “Name that Christmas Carol”. You can find printable sheets online to download or make your own list of songs you and your friends can mumble in the desperate attempt of your opponents to find the right song.

Again, this game works magic after a few drinks, especially to build up the courage. Those of you who really love singing can even improvise karaoke stations and help everyone have a good time only with Christmas-related songs. Full disclosure – if you don’t hate Wham’s jam already, you will after this karaoke session.

Books about binoculars that have helped me learn more about them


I used to hate everything related to science. I wasn’t particularly good with physics or chemistry in school, but the only thing that seemed to captivate me was the optics part that our physics teacher explained to us one day. I somehow got the basic principles through which light travels through lenses.

This aspect eventually helped to understand some things regarding biology, such as the way that the image is formed in the eye. As you can probably tell from the other two articles I have written, I am passionate about optics, in general. I like using small devices to explore the world around me. Binoculars are just an example.

Because at first, I was a bit confused as to which type of binoculars I was supposed to buy, I started looking into books about them. I came across several. Two very basic ones I can recommend are Binoculars (How It Works), by Robin Koontz and Choosing Binoculars for Bird Watching and Wildlife: 12 essential tips to help you pick the perfect wildlife and birding binocular, by Calvin Jones. As the name of both of these books suggests, they are designed for complete beginners. Plus, they don’t cost a lot of money, so they’re great if you’re just starting out.

If you aren’t into birdwatching like myself, perhaps you aren’t interested in some types of binoculars. In that case, I recommend considering reading Binocular Highlights: 99 Celestial Sights for Binocular Users, by Gary Seronik. This Canadian author is said to be an expert in various fields such as telescope making and binocular astronomy, so you should check out his book if you have some time for reading and would enjoy building your own telescope, for example.

From what I noticed, this particular book has managed to gather quite a bit of enthusiasm on the part of those who have read it. Most describe it as clear and to the point, and that’s something that every reader should appreciate. I myself find it hard to read nonfiction because many authors choose to say what they have to say in 200 pages instead of 50.

Another book I can suggest is 50 Things to See with A Small Telescope by John Read. There are several alternatives to this book, which is to say that some can tell you what you can see in the Southern Hemisphere, others in the Northern Hemisphere and so on. The only downside to this book is that it tends to cost a pretty penny. However, if you are lucky enough, you could get it from a used book store or even get in touch with the publisher and ask for a free electronic copy in exchange for a review.


How to get a good pair of binoculars



The terminology that’s currently used to depict most of the features in a good pair of binoculars is downright baffling. I wanted to get a model for birdwatching as I like to spend time in the woods on the weekends. It relaxes me and makes me feel like I’m in touch with nature. The problem was that I couldn’t wrap my mind around all of the jargon. I had to learn a lot of things about binoculars and read thousands of reviews before I could finally buy myself a nice pair of binoculars.

First off, there are two kinds of designs that one might come across when prospecting the market. The first is the roof prism binocular, which boasts an H-shaped design, and the second is the Porro prism binocular, the one that resembles the letter M.

One of the primary specifications you will have to decide on is the magnification, and here’s where most buyers tend to get confused as there are two numbers written on the product. The first one relates to the number of times that the binocular is capable of magnifying the image so that it appears closer. If for instance, a model has a magnification of 10x, it can increase the picture you are looking at by ten times. The second number is the objective lens diameter, and this detail is particularly important as it defines the amount of light that’s allowed to enter the binoculars.

The larger the objective lens diameter, the higher the chance for the product to be bulky and cumbersome. One can have a hard time carrying it through the woods if one is interested in getting a portable alternative. Most of the models that are marketed as compact options have an objective lens diameter of under 30mm.

I would also recommend looking at your purpose and requirements as they can define your entire experience with your next pair of binoculars. Will you be looking at moving subjects or would you rather opt for a product that’s primarily designed for studying still subjects? Spending time outdoors can take a toll on such equipment, so you might have to opt for a pair that’s waterproof. If you wear glasses, the matter is even more complicated as you will have to try to understand the eye relief of the binoculars that you are thinking of buying.

Last, but not least, I suggest taking some time and going through several consumer reports. This is a recommendation I have made over and over again, but it doesn’t get old. The fact is that many other owners just like you can let you know if anything has gone wrong with their binoculars.


An article we really recommend: http://www.birdwatching.com/optics/binoculars2_porro_roof.html



Types of microscopes you ought to consider for students


There isn’t a universal rule as to which microscope works for students who are planning to get their degree in biology and those who are studying for their degree in, say, veterinary medicine. Often times, they have to get the best of both worlds. What this means is that they should use both a stereo microscope and a compound one.

In fact, some areas require even three types of microscopes. For example, if your job requires you to go on a field, you probably don’t want a model that weighs a lot as transporting it can become cumbersome. By contrary, students are likely to use the microscopes in school labs and one that’s placed on their desk, in their rooms. In other words, they’re less likely to carry the microscope from one spot to the next as they have to tend to their studying while they are in the same place.

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see that the domain that the student is currently getting his or her degree in is what matters most. While stereo microscopes are made to satisfy the needs of those interested in looking at leaves, insects, and rather large things such as jewelry pieces and electronics components, the best compound microscopes are a different business altogether.

Another thing that makes the difference between one kind and the other is the magnification power. While compound alternatives can magnify the size of the specimen by up to 1000x and more, few stereo microscopes can do the same. In fact, I’ve never come across one that is capable of doing so, and I’ve been prospecting the market for quite a while. Most of the units you are likely to come across have magnification powers that go up to 90x. If you’re lucky, they might be able to magnify the sample by up to 200x, but that’s very rare.

So, should the student be interested in looking at smears and biological specimens, he or she should consider getting a compound unit. Depending on the working distance made available by the design of the product, the user might be able to look at other items, as well.

The last type of microscope I was mentioning in the beginning was the USB magnifier. Of all the types available for sale these days, this particular one isn’t the one I would recommend for a student. Such models are usually made with poor optical components, they can’t withstand the test of time, they don’t even have eyepieces, and they usually offer a somewhat poorer resolution compared to their stereo and compound counterparts. But they are cheap, I’ll give them that.