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Things To Do In Lieu of Sleep

I pretty much stopped sleeping a few months ago. “Stopped” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I get about four or five hours a night most of the time. Sometimes less than that. I’m not sure about what to make of the shift in my rest habits, but I’m not putting a lot of thought into it. I guess you could say I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over it, albeit, I suppose that I am. On the upside of the sudden change in my life I now have a lot more time to think about things that otherwise might not get pondered. Anyone who knows me might not think that that is necessarily a good thing, but I disagree. Some of the stuff that goes through my mind these days is breaking ground in new intellectual areas for me.

For instance, this morning at 4:17 a tinge of frustration hit me when I rolled over and looked at the clock. Some mornings I wake up, but I sense that if I lay there for a bit I’ll go back to sleep. This morning I knew that I was wide awake and my brain was already spinning. Within a minute or two a thought popped into my head. “I wonder who invented flip-flops,” was what I heard my brain voice ask. That led to thinking about the hula-hoop and the Slinky, Nerf football and finally Rubik’s cube. Then I heard my voice answer, “I presume Rubik invented Rubik’s cube,” but then again, who knows. Edison took credit for a/c electricity, but now we know that Tesla was the guy who came up with it. It’s widely claimed that Bill Gates borrowed his Windows program from Steve Jobs and took the credit and profits. A bit of a window into his soul, you might say. And it’s well documented in court cases that Zuckerberg stole the Facebook concept he was paid to work on, but I guess that’s just the way it goes. Anyway, I digress. Back to the flip-flops, hula-hoop, slinky, Nerf Football, and the Rubik’s cube and 4:20 in the morning.

I supposed the only mystery of the flip-flop is who was the first to call them flip-flops and who took modern day credit for them in the past hundred years or so. We know from watching old movies that flip-flops have been around since the days of King Tutt and before. I clearly recall Yul Brynner wearing them when he got into a tiff with Moses. And all the old Samurai movies were full of sword swinging, flip-flop wearing warriors, who kicked them off when they walked into their paper houses and sat down at chailess tables, so I suppose it’s safe to say that they were invented so long ago that we’ll never know who was the first to wear them. Whether they came from Kyro or Matsumoto, flip-flops have been around forever, but they were popularized in the USA after the second world war when soldiers brought them back from Japan. I tried asking Mr. (or Ms.) Google about the history of flip-flops, but G quickly turned the conversation into the dark hole of politicians flip-flopping on stuff. The flippity-floppity shoe quickly got lost in the mess and I moved onto the hula-hoop.

The hula-hoop, it seems, has been around forever (no pun intended) in Australia. Way down under, kids have been twirling bamboo hoops around their waste as long as folks can recall. Then in 1957 Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin took the idea and made some hoops from a new plastic material called Marlex, and here we are in 2023. Kids today, who are likely doing the virtual hula-hoop on xbox or some other virtual program, should be aware that less than a hundred years ago the hi-tech hula-hoop of the day was advanced from bamboo to plastic. Who knows what the next version will be. Maybe we’ll work our way back to bamboo. That would be cool.

In 1943 an engineer named Richard James invented the slinky while trying to create some sort of spring for nautical equipment. He knocked some springs off a shelf and watched the first slinky do its slinky thing. He and his wife perfected the toy, came up with a jingle, marketed it and the rest is history.

I have to be honest and admit that I saw a show on the Nerf Football a couple years ago, but I’ll share it anyway. In the late 1960’s a guy named John Mattox came to a guy named Fred Cox with the idea of a lightweight football that was safer and easier for kids to play with. Fred had been a field goal kicker for the NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings. Long story short, Fred talked to a friend of his that worked with foam materials and they came up with the soft stuff used in the first Nerf Football. Then Fred went to a toy company and a few hundred million Nerf balls later, here we are with Nerf basketballs, Nerf guns, Nerf Frisbees and probably a bunch more Nerf things that I am not aware of.

Ernó Rubik invented his Magic Cube in 1974. It was released by a toy company in England in 1978 and then another company released the Rubik’s Cube worldwide in 1980. Almost immediately millions of people tried and failed to solve the puzzle that has never really caught my attention all that much. If I wanted all the colors to be neatly separated on individual sides of the cube, I’d simply buy a new one and then I wouldn’t mess it up. Puzzle solved! It’s estimated that a half billion of the cubes have been sold over the years, with at least a couple dozen being solved.

There have been a few other unique toys over the years, but I’m not sure any have been as iconic as the ones I already brought up. Sure, there have been things like the Pet Rock, but let’s be honest. The rocks didn’t do anything and if you had a magic marker and a rock you could make one in about thirty seconds. I suppose Silly Putty, Play Dough, Legos, Etch-a-Sketch and the Magic Eight Ball could have made the list, but this blog can only go on for so long. And there are Lincoln Logs, which is a pretty interesting story. All the way back in 1924, John Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, came up with the idea of the logs as he watched workers building one of his father’s designs for an earthquake-proof building in Japan. The logs were named after President Lincoln due to his frontier reputation. With the advent of tv and tv advertising, the sales took off in the 1950’s and they are still selling in 2023.

So there you have it. Just in case you have forgotten what this blog is about, let me remind you. These things I just wrote about are ideas that you can kick around during the hours that you once filled with sleep. No need to thank me or to waste your time wishing you could go back to sleep. Trust me, wishing does not work. I already tried it. Glad to help where I can.

Well… it’s 6:00 a.m. Time to get ready for work and time to think about other things that are perhaps less interesting than who invented flip-flops. Or perhaps not. Who knows.

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