From a list of nerdy gift ideas:
Garmin Street Pilot C340
(Real men use real he-man navigational systems)
Available from Amazon
To hell with that. Real men use sextants.
I used to get into this argument a lot with people — sailors and pilots, mostly — who seemed to think that traditional navigation methods, like maps and compasses and dead reckoning, were obsolete in the world of the Global Positioning System. My argument was always that while GPS might be nice, in theory, it is still a technology that may fail, and, the way most human luck runs, it probably will fail at precisely the moment when you need it to work.
The news that the United States Naval Academy stopped teaching celestial navigation a few years back nearly brought tears to my eyes. There’s something elemental about celestial fixes that is good for the soul — yeah, ok, the DGPS was more accurate than I ever was with a sextant, but in the middle of the Pacific, what difference does a nautical mile make? I always felt like I was communing with the intellectual spirits of generations of mariners. Granted, I have a romantic streak in me about a mile wide, but still, there are practical reasons why these skills are important. It worked for Columbus; it can work for you, too.
(Also, I have absolutely no patience for people who use in-car GPS navigation. Jesus, get a frakking map! Learn how to read it! The damn GPS doesn’t know anything about local road conditions anyway, which is why your brain is an infinitely more useful tool than a $440 GPS unit.)