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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Coke!.....Radio!... or....things that aren't what they say they are.

As you may have seen in my last post (and in numerous others) I like the odd ways in which brands are attached to items. Whether it was for the strict purpose of promotion, or possibly as parting gifts for retirees,  someone thought they might be big sellers.
Nothing to see here, just your everyday average bottle of Coke.  But at night ah-ha! at night it turns into:
That's right some weird version of Coke's nemesis: the Coke-Borg!  Naw! Actually as the title of this post has already revealed it is a radio...A.M. flavored.  I actually purchased one of these for next to nothing years ago and, Yes. It actually worked.  How do you tune in your favorite station in AM obscurity?

You spin the bottle! The radio's on/off switch was cleverly concealed in the bottle cap. I was hoping I had a rare gem here, unfortunately, there is at least a couple of cases of these radios, on Ebay some still in the original box. I wanted to write about it because after AVA's soccer game we hit a few sales. There wasn't much out there until we came to a sale with some odd things in a random box of junk and sitting in the bottom of it was another one of these. I wasn't holding it for more that 10 seconds before one of the ladies running the yard sale said, "You can have it!"  I might just get in touch with the corporate office and suggest that as their next tag line.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

World's Smallest Water Heater

This is no joke. With all the technological advances in computing and medicine bent on micro-manufacturing, it seems about time that some company would reduce the size of these.   I have dubbed it the nano-heater:
This is not an optical illusion.  This was photographed on my kitchen counter. I know it doesn't look like the the latest in anything, and I can tell by the the look on your face that you don't believe me.  Well, here's more proof:
Why would it claim to be something it is not? Look, I promised you the world's smallest water heater and I didn't draw you in only to be called a liar and a charlatan.  I will show you the last piece of evidence which will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you are looking at is truly the world's smallest water heater:
Yup, it's a lighter.  Couldn't resist it when I saw the dollar price tag.  Might take a half hour to enjoy a thimble full of tea, but think of the savings.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More from the medicine chest...

In a box I purchased over the summer, which was labeled "Medical Equipment,"  I continue to uncover numerous interesting items. I have written about several already, but this one was different from the rest.
Rather unremarkable despite having several "marks" on it. At first I thought it was a pattern, only after opening the case did it become clear what the box was for...

O.K. maybe only somewhat sure of what it was for. This being among medical items I am thinking that it is another kit for diagnosis of some odd malady. Small knife, thermometer holder, small ruler. What's that pointy thing next to the ruler?
It's a writing kit, very apropos for a doctor to have carried one around. Bottom to top the kit contains a pen that may or may not have a fountain (there is room for it, but it would have been a inking mess), a pencil with a couple of leads, small ruler for drawing short straight lines, and a blade which might have been for sharpening the pencil.  Typically, there is very little printed on the pieces to give an idea of its true origin and purpose. The nib of the pen held some information:
The picture came out fuzzy, but the information reads "C.M.Clinton's Double Pointed Nickel Pen." Not much help because a search for that phrase or even CM Clinton gives 0 results. I can't even find other similar writing kits to compare this with...Can you?.  I got the only other hint from the magnifying glass:
  Pat. Feb 13, 1883 appears on 3 of the four pieces.  So, is this really a 127 year old writing kit, or is this like finding an old book with a similar year, only to flip the page to see 16th printing? It's cool. I like it, and the design on the case seems to have been made by the owner using it as a way to de-gunk the pen nib while writing.  I just wish he'd left something a little more legible.

Re-Post: World Trade Center remembered with respect

Please click the link to visit a post I made for this day in 2009:
World Trade Center remembered

Monday, September 6, 2010

Still More Evidence of my Mis-spent Youth

Just the other day I was pondering with a friend what it was like before all the electronic devices that focus our attention away from the world around us into this little 3x4 screen:
      "Those were golden days of  communication and togetherness. Outside games with the kids on the street both before dinner and after until we were all called home to bed. Now, its an i-pod, or I-phone, droid, PSP, Nintendo DSI are sucking and demanding all your attention." 

               "Yeah, it was great before those." 

      "Well, before those it was plain old cell phones that always ring when everybody else doesn't want them to."

                 "Yeah, it was great before those." 

     "No, before that it was pagers, which buzzed or beeped incessantly, and seemed equally unnecessary until you got one and couldn't leave home without it."  

                   "Well, before then it was good, peaceful, with everyone singing songs and holding hands across fields of fresh cut grass." 

      "Nope, before that it was portable CD players and Sony Walkmen and if someone was wearing headphones, your thoughts or ideas didn't have a chance."  

"Okay, before then!??"

 I got this device in '76 or '77 for Christmas, and just looking at the packaging alone was a high from which I thought I would never come down. The game couldn't have been simpler: You, as depicted by the brighter LED tried to dodge other dimmer LEDs as they came down the screen. Moving left and right you would "pass" them, and the 4 position gear switch caused the game to speed up with an appropriate higher pitched buzzing/whining sound effect.  Although it had long stopped working I am pretty sure I had this until about 6 years ago. (thanks to wiki media commons for the free use of the image)
 Head to Head Soccer I picked up at a tag sale just because it was from the same era of "Auto Race". In fact, it was probably the reason I got Auto Race, I or my parents were in a bid to keep me "cool" or current with the latest trends.  When these games began hitting the stores (and leaving the shelves as quickly) they were mostly sports related.  The most popular one  I remember was the Football game, which could have been either the Mattel version or the Coleco version, but both were captivating to kids my age. Electronic game arcades, and the games' manufacturers, were "smart-bombing" pinball machines and they tried to emulate the same pay-off of excitement and challenge with electronic "beeps" and "buzzes" in a portable package.  It worked, and for $30 $40 $50 and up you could have the arcade right in your hand.

I grin at the "TV advertised" line.  Almost as if someone in marketing had said "Damn! the As seen on TV slogan is taken! We need our own!" This was another popular genre of hand held games: Kill all the aliens you can!
I never heard of this one until I saw it a few years ago and only bought it because it was still in the box.  The premise was the same as most, manipulate your dot into position to shoot the other dots. The pay off was more glorious electronic sounds of explosions. Great fun!   My favorite anachronistic hand-held game, however, was:
The beauty of Blip? In 1977, the obsession with Pong was so great that all you needed to do to sell a million units was create a similar game that didn't need a TV screen, make it portable...and call it "digital." There really wasn't anything digital about it.  Blip was a mechanical game that you wound up and only required batteries for the single LED "ball" that went back and forth.  If you want to be impressed, take a look inside at the Rube Goldberg-esque mechanics that went in to making Blip work.

Enjoy this commercial for Blip:

I was so obsessed with Blip, which is less a game of skill and more of chance in the way the randomness of the ball moves between sides. To send the ball back to either a human or "other" intelligent life force required figuring out where the ball would land and hit that corresponding number (1,2, or 3) to send it on its way. If you guessed wrong, the ball locked on your side until you released it with the "Serve" button which simultaneously  registered a point for your opponent. The single player mode was brutal because the game would never miss a shot, so after a few rounds that mode became more like taking practice with one side of the Ping Pong table folded up. Anyone who owned Blip was usually left with one of 2 options: toss it, or Hack it. I chose the later (somewhere around 1985).
Truthfully, looking at this after all those years, I'm not sure I actually did figure it out. If I had continued tracking the sequence for another 10-15 digits I would have had it for real. Well, it claimed to be a "digital" game..I guess that's what they meant. What was your favorite electronic hand-held game?