You'll need to click on some heavy stuff for these to keep your books for sliding around, but the good news is that these $20 bookends will also click tight with Pixelblocks, Megablocks, Kre-o and K'nex Bricks.
I had the earlier version of the Plugable USB Handheld Digital Microscope and liked it a lot. The second version just came out and I love it. Smaller than a prescription pill bottle, the microscope has a USB cord that can be plugged into any computer. Download the software here and start looking up close at money, leaves, circuit boards, bugs, skin, hair, and anything else.
The scope has a built-in, adjustable-brightness LED for illumination. The brightest setting is not always the best - try different levels of illumination and let the software auto-adjust the contrast. I also learned that in order to see things at the maximum 250X magnification you need to follow the instructions in the FAQ.
The scope comes with a suction-cup gooseneck mount that is very stable, and a plastic board with a grid pattern, which helps you align and locate the thing you are looking at. You can also simply hold the scope against things. The software takes still photos and movies, and hasn't crashed on me yet (the earlier version was buggy).
At this price, the microscope is an amazingly entertaining device and I find myself grabbing it to check out all sorts of things, including splinters, skin cuts, bugs, and playing card designs.
Plugable USB 2.0 Handheld Digital Microscope with Stand
$35 Buy one on Amazon
Top row (left to right): One black whisker and many white whiskers on my chin, strawberry seed, George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill at 250X
Middle row: Snap blade knife at 250X, pixels on an iPhone 6 Plus display, seal from $1
Bottom row: Nickel, George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill at 50X, Snap blade knife at 50X,
Chances are you’ve heard of many classic Wham-O toys such as the Frisbee, Silly String, and the Slip ’N Slide. The Super Balloon is another Wham-O invention, originally introduced in the 80s, that never quite reached the same legendary toy fame. The good news is that a new version of the Super Balloon is being produced today, so you still have a chance to enjoy an underrated classic toy with your family and friends.
To inflate the Super Balloon, you run into the wind with it, finish it off by blowing it up with your mouth, and then just twist, fold, and seal the open end with a rubber band. A large open space is the best place to use it. My kids love when I throw it as high as I can into the sky, so they can run across the field trying to catch it as it slowly sails back to the ground. They also enjoy spinning it in the air and bouncing it off of walls. With two or more balloons, you can have some very humorous jousting tournaments or slow-motion sword battles.
We did find that the material is susceptible to rips and punctures due to hard play, although some scotch tape repairs gave us a few more hours of play. It’s also hard to control on windy days, therefore it's great as a backup when there isn’t enough wind for kite-flying. This is quite a large and unique toy that you don’t see every day, and when we took it to a local park, we had several families come to check it out and play with us. – Mike Evans
Wham-O Super Balloon
Ages 6 and up, inflates to 10 feet
$12 Buy one on Amazon
The kamisama of manga. The Japanese Disney. The godfather of anime. Tezuka-san has had many labels bestowed upon him both before and after his untimely death, but very few do justice to his contributions to a truly transatlantic medium, one which has dramatically surged in popularity in the last decade.
A doyen of over 500 individual print titles and scores of feature films, his creations – numbering amongst them the maverick doctor of Black Jack, the epic treatise on immortality Phoenix (Hi no Tori), and the all-conquering, sci-fi inflected Pinocchio retelling of Astro Boy (Mighty Atom) – are adventurous, topical, riotously funny and fundamentally human.
Part biography, part showcase of a lifetime spent in creative abandon, author Helen McCarthy traces his early inspiration drawn from Disney's wide-eyed characters – a look that would define manga's similarly neotenous bent – to a public, if officially unacknowledged repayment in the form of Kimba The White Lion re-imagining The Lion King. Packaged with a DVD of Tezuka at work, and a relief cover of the aforementioned Mighty Atom, Osamu Tezuka: The God Of Manga is a compelling and comprehensive work. – Nick Parton
The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
by Helen McCarthy (author) and Osamu Tezuka (illustrator)
Harry N. Abrams
2009, 272 pages, 9 x 12.2 x 1 inches
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon
The Cthulhu Mythos is turned into a game of dice in Steve Jackson's Cthulhu Dice. The demonically beating heart of the game is a large, beautiful, and gem-like 12-sided die covered in Cthulhu-related runes. Each rune has a different effect in making one person or another go insane (or taking some of their insanity away from them). Players take turns choosing someone to curse and then casting the die against them. Every player has a stash of Sanity Tokens (little glass disks), a.k.a. “marbles,” and when you've lost all of your marbles, you go insane. But this is a game from the world of H.P. Lovecraft, so you're still not out of the game. Insane players continue to play just to try and drive other players mad. The goal of the game is to be the last sane Cthulhu Cultist standing. If everyone goes rubber room bonkers, Cthulhu wins.
Cthulhu Dice is very easy to learn and especially fun to play in situations where you want the social interaction of gaming, but don't want to play a long game, or you don't want to be tremendously engaged in the game you're playing. People always talk about “beer and pretzels” games, well this is a game you could actually play in a boisterous bar or as a sort of palate cleaner between main attraction games at a gaming night.
Steve Jackson Games
Ages 10 and up, 2-6 players
$7 Buy one on Amazon
The fact that many Amazon reviewers were aghast to realize that this stainless steel double spoon holder resembled a scrotum was reason alone to buy it.
Culina Stainless Steel Double Spoon Rest 7" ($10) on Amazon
Three fun facts about worms:
1. The largest worms in the world are 10 feet long (that's feet, not inches!).
2. Worms move with the help of tiny bristles.
3. A million worms can live in one small park.
A lot more facts can be found in We Dig Worms, an adorable and interesting picture book for ages 4-8 that turns the worm “eww” factor into a sense of awe and respect for the hard-working cold-blooded creatures. As a fun side note, Author Kevin McCloskey, an illustration professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, used paper bags as his canvas for the book’s charming paintings, “because, just like worms, he believes in recycling.”
We Dig Worms
by Kevin McCloskey
2015, 40 pages, 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
$11 Buy a copy on Amazon
Power up your iOS, Android, and USB-compatible devices over and over again with a massive 20,000mAh of portable juice. The high-quality Lithium Polymer SolarJuice ($49.99) is designed to charge at home or with just the power of the sun, for an enormous amount of extra battery fuel for life on the move.
Hand-selected from the coolest innovative products at CES 2015!
- Top Grade A cell, built-in 20000mAh Lithium Polymer battery charges via a powerful 1.2W monocrystalline solar panel
- Dual output allows for simultaneous charging of multiple devices at high speeds
- Anti-explosion, lightweight, compact, and reliable
- 1000+ recharge cycles over the life of the battery
- Solar charging capabilities with any light condition
- 4 LED indicators reflecting charging & discharging process
- Fast charging 2.1 & 1A power output for maximum iOS & Android charge rates (more than 7x charge for iPhone 6)
- Ultrabright LED flashlight