#891 Magic 8 Ball

I remember growing up and having a Magic 8 Ball as one of my toys. It was fun then and is still fun now. The toy was developed somewhere around 1950 by Alabe Crafts, Inc. and is currently manufactured by Mattel. It looks like a traditional black and white 8-ball except there is a transparent window on the bottom of the Magic 8 Ball through which you can read 20 different answers to questions you ask the Magic 8 Ball.

magic 8 ball package side

The answers could be any of the following-
It is certain; It is decidedly so; Without a doubt; Yes definitely; You may rely on it; As I see it, yes; Most likely; Outlook good; Yes; Signs point to yes; Reply hazy try again; Ask again later; Better not tell you now; Cannot predict now; Concentrate and ask again; Don’t count on it; My reply is no; My sources say no; Outlook not so good or Very doubtful. Notice that Ten of the possible answers are positive, five are negative, and five are neutral.

When you want to use the ball, you hold the window facing down then ask the Magic 8 Ball a yes or no question, turn the ball so that the window faces you and your answer shall appear.

magic 8 ball yes

They say the Magic 8 Ball works like this- Inside the ball is a cylindrical reservoir containing a white, plastic, icosahedral die (a polyhedron with 20 triangular faces, 30 edges and 12 vertices) floating in alcohol with dissolved dark blue dye. Each of the 20 faces of the die has an affirmative, negative, or non-committal statement printed on it in slightly raised letters. When the die floats to the top of the cylindrical reservoir and one of its faces is pressed against the window, the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message as white letters on a blue background. Mainly it is just for fun yet some people take it pretty seriously, even for fortune telling purposes.

I don’t believe it. I say it is more like this-

Magic 8 Ball inside

Have you ever played with a Magic 8 Ball? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

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#892 IKEA

According to the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, IKEA is finally setting up shop in Las Vegas…and that makes me smile.

ikea outside

What is an IKEA you ask? Let me try to explain. IKEA is a Swedish company that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture (such as beds, chairs and desks), appliances and home accessories. So it is a furniture store? No. It is so much more. According to the IKEA website there are about 10,960 products in the total IKEA product range. The have art and rugs and lighting fixtures and cutlery and basically everything you would need to furniture a home. And meatballs. Yes, they have delicious meatballs but more on that later. The Las Vegas store will be 351,000 square feet with 1,300 parking spaces over 26 acres. Plenty big but not big enough to house everything which is why they publish an amazing catalog. IKEA published 197 million catalogs in 2010, in twenty languages and sixty-one editions. It is considered to be the main marketing tool of the retail giant, consuming 70% of the company’s annual marketing budget. IKEA operates the largest photo studio in northern Europe at 86,000 sq ft. The catalog is printed on chlorine-free paper of 10–15% post-consumer waste, and prints approximately 175 million copies worldwide annually, which is more than 3 times as much as the Bible. According to Canadian broadcaster, CTV, “Readers have found all kinds of strange tidbits including mysterious cat pictures, apparent Mickey Mouse references and weird books wedged into the many shelves that clutter the catalogs.” I would totally hide hidden stuff in the pictures. How fun would that be?

ikea man standing

Practically everything in the pictures are available for purchase.

In fact look at the upper left corner of this picture and you will see a print of a zebra. That print comes in a set of three and they are on my wall.

ikea zebra

Ikea was founded in Sweden in 1943 by then-17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, who was listed as one of the world’s richest people in 2013 although I hear he is a lot like Warren Buffet in that he drives a 15 year old Volvo. The Daily Mail wrote, “He takes easyJet flights, drives himself around in a 15-year-old Volvo, and has furnished his modest house almost entirely with Ikea items – which he assembled himself.”

So how does IKEA work and what makes it so awesome? Check this store map out:

ikea map

The place is sort of like a maze as you wind yourself through the different sections of the store and its one-way layout picking up your items as you find them. If you want an item such as a couch or bookcase that is too big to fit in your cart, you write the item down on an order slip and wait till you get to the end where thee is a place where those bigger items are stored on shelves and you grab it there. Almost everything is in a flat-pack form which means it is a form of furniture that requires customer assembly. The furniture components are packaged in a carton which also contains assembly instructions and necessary hardware needed for the buyer to follow in order to build the furniture item correctly. This keeps the cost down.

And since IKEA has so many products, you literally could furnish your entire place with the items IKEA sells. As you see in the pictures IKEA also has this sort of minimalism dorm room vibe to its design philosophy and that appeals to me as well.

IKEA room

Some folks such as those at 99% Invisible and IKEA Hackers are so into IKEA they have come up with ways to hack IKEA products. They explain, “IkeaHackers.net is a site about modifications on and repurposing of Ikea products. Hacks, as we call it here, may be as simple as adding an embellishment, some others may require power tools and lots of ingenuity.” Cool stuff. Check them out for sure.

They even have a IKEA Family loyalty card which of course I have.

Every store includes a restaurant serving traditional Swedish food, including potatoes with Swedish meatballs, cream sauce and lingonberry jam, although there are variations. It is absolutely delicious and rather inexpensive. I have sometimes gone to the store when I lived in Burbank just to eat there. The stores also serve local foods as well.

I am looking forward to the day IKEA has its Grand Opening in Las Vegas. You know that day I will be all smiles.

Have you ever been to an IKEA? Did you have the meatballs? What is your thought about this store and its philosophy? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

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#893 Going to a Las Vegas 51s baseball game

Last night Brenna and I decided to take in a Las Vegas 51s baseball game. The temps in Las Vegas are usually too high during the summer so hitting the drive in movies or a baseball game are usually out of the question. The weather co-operated with us and was only in the high double digits so we got some tickets and went to see the Las Vegas 51s take on the Round Rock Express at Cashman Field.

las vegas 51s baseball

Check out these seats we got. Not too shabby and especially check out the price.

las vegas 51s baseball ticket

They are usually a little more expensive but we had a special deal. Regardless, the same seats for the Los Angeles Dodgers would have been $100+

The Las Vegas 51s, formerly known as the Las Vegas Stars, are a minor league baseball team. As of the 2014 baseball season, the Las Vegas 51s are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

We visited the gift shop and bought Brenna some super skimpy shorts, or maybe it was a bathing suit bottoms. I am not really sure but looking forward to her wearing them just the same. Talk about 1K Smiles! Afterwards we looked for something to eat and drink and made our way to the upper level where they have a sort of buffet indoors where you can sit at tables and eat and watch the game. When I am at a baseball game I like to be right there near the action and being in an air conditioned restaurant seemed a little too removed so we went back outside and found the hot dog vendor kiosk and bought a couple dogs and drinks. Then we went to our section and found our seats with the help of the very friendly usher. Not too shabby of seats right near third base.

las vegas 51s baseball hotdog hot dog

After the game started we noticed there were empty seats so we moved a little closer.

las vegas 51s baseball seats

Around the middle of the game I remembered the words of the great Humphrey Bogart when he said, “A hotdog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz” and since I could not agree more I decided it was time to another. Since the game was already half way over I felt no reason why I should not take any open seats I fancied so Brenna and I decided to move to just behind home plate and found a couple seats in the second row just above the dugout section.

las vegas 51s baseball better seats

Nice view huh?

The 51s had a comfortable 6-0 lead when all of a sudden everything seemed to fall apart. Next thing we knew the Express had amassed 5 runs and where knocking on the door to tie the game. A couple strike outs later and a sweet tag-the-runner-then-the base double play by the second baseman and the 51s win 6-5. Whew! That was close…and fun and left us with a ton of smiles and nice memories!

Cosmo the Las Vegas 51s baseball mascot running

Have you ever been to a minor league baseball game? Who did you see? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

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#894 Starfish

I used to love to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific and interact with the starfish. Starfish, or sometimes they are called sea stars, are beautiful animals that can be a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, although all resemble a star.

starfish 2

Although starfish live underwater they are not fish. They do not have scales, gills, or fins like fish and they move very differently from fish. You see fish propel themselves with their tails but starfish have these cute, tiny tube feet to help them move along the surface. According to National Geographic there are about 2,000 species of starfish who live on the seabed in all the world’s oceans. They live in both the tropics and frigid polar waters and can be found from the intertidal zone down to abyssal depths, about 20,000 ft, below the surface. Talk about versatile.

According to Soft Schools starfish are related to sand dollars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. Starfish vary in size. They usually have five to ten inches in length and weigh up to 11 pounds and can survive up to 35 years in the wild.

starfish in water

Yes, it is true. A starfish can regenerate lost arms. And since a starfish has most of their vital organs in their arms, some can even regenerate an entirely new starfish from just one arm and a portion of the star’s central disc. It takes about a year for an arm to grow back. That is pretty cool!

People wonder if a starfish can see? I can tell you they do not see in much detail but can sense light and dark with an eye spot at the end of each arm. This is a very simple eye that looks like a red spot.

starfish on rocks

Have you ever seen a starfish? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

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#895 Smell of freshly brewed coffee

I recently read a report that said the last of your senses to start working when you wake up is the sense of smell. Yeah right. Not when the smell of freshly brewed coffee is making its way through the air and into my suite.

freshly brewed coffee girl

Doesn’t matter if it is first thing in the morning or last thing at night, freshly brewed coffee just has that special scent for me that always makes me smile. Some might have other favorite scents as I surely do but this one hits home. Baby powder. Jasmine. Rosemary. All good stuff but none hold a match to freshly brewed coffee.

Maybe it is the thought of the joy of starting a new day or warming up on a cold day but like I said it does not matter if it is morning or night or hot or cold. Though maybe the smell triggers the memories of those things. Ok, now we are getting into Tony Robbins territory huh?

I recently discovered freshly brewed coffee scented candles in case anyone was wondering what to get me for my birthday or for my un-birthday as The White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland would prefer.

freshly brewed coffee two cups

It seems that roasted coffee contains over 800 Volatile Molecular Species, many of which contribute significantly to coffee’s aroma. For comparison, wine only has about 150. With the right amount of heat in the roasting process, the Maillard Reaction or ‘browning” creates over 500 of these as the amino acids and carbonyl / carbohydrates, which are the reducing sugars found naturally in the green been, react to form new aromatic compounds.

We know that aldehydes are the most delicate and volatile aroma compounds created in the roasted coffee process. These compounds give coffee its sweet, caramel, fruit / floral-like aromas, however they are easily oxidized, which is to say, changed into acid and water or dissipated into the air especially when subject to the grinding process.

freshly brewed coffee brewing

They say the best Arabica coffee beans, the staple of specialty cafes, typically have a higher concentration of these aldehydes and also contain more of a “butter” aroma. Both of these desirable and flavorsome compounds are readily lost due to dissipation into the air. This loss is accelerated in the grinding process where 50% of these delicate aromas are lost within about 15 minutes of grinding, which is why coffee in cafes often smells far better than it tastes.

Whatever. Just remember the words of Henry Ward Beecher when he said “No coffee can be good in the mouth that does not first send a sweet offering of odor to the nostrils.”

What do you think of the smell of freshly brewed coffee? Or do you have a special scent you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

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