Well, Christmas has come and gone again. The decorations and lights are put away, the tree has been dispatched to the alley and the house looks like a tornado has just blown through a Toys-R-Us store. What a mess. Thank goodness SOME people gave them clothes because at least they have a place to go when they’re not in use. (When I say ‘a place to go’ I mean ‘other than the living room floor.’)
Speaking of toys, my wife and I are beginning to have flashbacks to our own childhoods whenever our kids get a ‘new’ toy that we played with as children over 30 years ago. Oww! Hey! Oh, sorry dear. Let me correct that – it was only 15 years ago in my wife’s case.
Of course, when we were kids, we got the ‘original’ versions of these toys before the lawyers got involved and ‘wimped’ them out. Back then, NOTHING had a “choking hazard” label on it. Toys that required batteries used D-cells that leaked acid when they went unused for a few days. Things that emitted projectiles did NOT shoot ‘Nerf’ balls.
I remember I had a toy missile launcher when I was about 6. This thing would launch a solid plastic rocket (OK, it did have a rubber tip) with enough force that it chipped the plaster off the ceiling (after I removed the rubber tip.) Try doing that with any of today’s toys.
But one toy my son received really exemplifies the degree to which kids’ toys have been ‘dumbed down’ and that toy is: ‘Creepy Crawlers’. For those of you that don’t know, ‘Creepy Crawlers’ is a toy where you quirt some liquid goop into metal molds in assorted bug shapes. You heat the molds until the goop turns into a rubber-like substance and then remove the bugs and throw them at your sister.
When I first played with ‘Creepy Crawlers’, it came with the aforementioned goop and molds. What set it apart from the current version, however, was the heating element. MY heating element was essentially a metal box with a recessed hot plate on top into which you placed the molds. You could test how hot it was by touching it with bare fingers. If your little brother burned his fingers and cried then you knew it was now hot enough to make ‘Creepy Crawlers’.
Once you were done cooking your bugs (3 or 4 minutes) you removed the mold, let it cool for 10 seconds and tried to get the bugs out without burning your OWN fingers or setting the kitchen table on fire.
Note: if you had more than one little brother, you could do this pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I had just one little brother and a little sister. My little sister didn’t like to play ‘Creepy Crawlers’ but she did like to play nurse. This worked out OK since my brother’s fingers needed the medical attention.
Today’s ‘Creepy Crawlers’ retain the goop and molds but the main difference is the heating element. Gone is the metal hot plate. In its place is a large plastic oven. But this is not an ordinary oven! This oven is heated by “one 60 watt small base candelabra light bulb (not included)”.
The 3-4 minute cooking time of the ‘Creepy Crawlers’ I played with is now about 11 minutes. In addition, there is a thermal lock on the oven door which makes you wait another 10-15 minutes for the unit to cool down before you can open the door and remove the mold. Now, where’s the fun in that?
I say enough is enough. It about time that kids today learned that not everything is fun and games. Maybe if they burn their fingers on their ‘Creepy Crawlers’ they’ll learn not to play with the stove in the kitchen. Maybe if they…
…oh, man. I just realized that I’ve finally turned into my dad.
Well, anyway, here’s a late Christmas present for those of you that got a cable modem or DSL modem from Santa: there are a couple of Web sites that you can visit to maximize your connection speed. The first is www.dslreports.com and the other is www.speedguide.net. Just browse around and look for the patches that apply to you. Instructions are provided and in just a few minutes you can experience Internet browsing that is up to 40% faster than what you have now.Finally, if you are trying to send me E-Mail and are having problems, please note that I have a new address. If you have any questions about using the Internet speed improvements above (or any other questions or suggestions) please send an E-Mail to