Editor's Note: Fun Brain Games and Geek Toys
Oct 17, 2009, 00:04 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)
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by Carla Schroder
My favorite card game is Krypto. Eons ago
when I was a youngun, you could buy this game from Edmund
Scientifics, and can still find it on Amazon and other online
nooks and crannies. The game is simple: there is a deck of 56 cards
numbered 1-25. Each player is dealt five cards, and there is one
common objective card in the middle. Players have three minutes to
use each of their cards once to form the number on the objective
It's a great brain-sharpener and a lot of fun. You can use
simple arithmetic or more advanced maths. It's not necessary to
hunt down an official deck because you can cobble one together from
standard card decks, though having a "real" one is nicer.
Another game we used to play a lot was Mastermind,
a code-breaking game for two players, one code-maker and one
code-breaker. Again the basics are simple, but require some
Another youthful passion that I still indulge in when I can is
astronomy. It helps to live out at the hind end of nowhere, with
nice dark skies and no light pollution. But even in a city there is
a lot to see in the night sky, and the Astroscan
telescope is the perfect kid's, beginner's, and all-around fun
telescope. It's inexpensive, it's easy to handle, and it's sharp
and bright. I still regret selling the one I had lo so many years
ago; it was a lot of fun. Linux has a lot of great astronomy
programs, which is another reason to want a netbook with 6-8 hours
Edmund Scientifics has a lot of gadgets that to me are way
cooler than a Nintendo or iPod or whatever the gadget du jour is,
My dad worked for various computer companies way back when, long
before the PC revolution and the Microsoft pandemic, and brought
home machines to play with. I remember a lighted scrolling message
sign that businesses put in their windows. It looked pretty much
the same as the ones you see now, but programming a new message
into it was rather arcane and involved toggle flipping, or button
pressing, or something like that. Anyway it wasn't typing on a
keyboard or clicking a mouse, which didn't even exist yet. I don't
recall all kinds of whining about "What, no GUI?? Begone, fiend!"
Dad showed his customers how to program it and that was it. No
drama. (No I'm not saying that was the better way-- I'm saying that
sitting down and learning gets the job done.) For us kids it was a
great toy, and I recall creating messages with words like "poop"
and "weiner", which for us were quite daring.
Another youthful passion that remains unfulfilled is model
trains. We had some small layouts when we were kids, and that leads
into learning all kinds of disciplines: electricity, chemistry,
model-building, math, planning and provisioning...it can get very
involved. I suppose these days they have microchips and firmwares
just like everything else.
Some of the most significant advances have been in digital
photography and audio/video production. Brace yourselves, for here
come more recollections from Ye Olden Days-- it's a whole lot
easier and better now. The dynamic range and resolution of both
audio and video go beyond what the analog world can do, and it's a
lot cheaper and easier to perform sophisticated A/V production.
I've done multi-track tape recording and editing, and I've done the
photography darkroom full of chemicals, special papers, and
expensive equipment. I like the newfangled ways a lot better.
Well that's enough about what I think is a fun time. What are
your favorite games and toys?