Growing up as the son of the local school principal had its problems (some taunting by classmates, etc) but it also had some perks. For example, my brothers and I would often grab Dad’s keys to the gymnasium. We would go at night and leave the lights off, then throw a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee in the total darkness. It was exceedingly cool.
One the the perks was access to product catalogs not available to the general public. There were wholesale catalogs with bizarre items from Japan, and classroom supply catalogs with all sorts of anatomical models and anything else a room could need. One of my favorites of these was the Edmund Scientific Catalog. One could not find a better collection of scientific oddities as a reasonable price.
As a teacher, I ordered items from Edmund on a regular basis – an HeNe laser and holography kit, various motors and magnets, and several electronics kits to have stashed around the classroom. Since I’ve left the classroom, I hadn’t seen an Edmund catalog in years. I was beginning to wonder if they were still around. Websites such as X-Treme Geek and ThinkGeek seem to have filled that void. However, this morning, I received a copy of Edmund Scientific in the mail. It still has all of those marvelous oddities it once offered, with some updates, of course. The laser is now a diode laser instead of Helium Neon, but you can still get super-powerful magnets and chemistry sets. The one item I found missing was the jumping coins that they used to feature in every catalog. Oh well, I guess it contained some hazardous material or something.