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Sold: Vintage Rice Cookers: National Rice-O-Mat SR-18E in Chrome, Hitachi Chime Omatic RD-4053

For sale: The Hitachi on Ebay.

For sale: The National on Ebay.

Showa Retro home appliances. These are two classics, the single-button National, which is probably from the 1960s, and the switch-and-button RD-4053 that must have been in production into the 1990s.

Following on the heels of the successful Toshiba ER series rice cookers, Matshushita, under the National brand, produced a similar rice cooker that required only a single inner pot.

The National rice cookers would become hugely successful around the world, and are still produced under the Panasonic brand. This style is still available outside the US, in some parts of Asia. (The Panasonic brand started as “National Panasonic”, and then just Panasonic. The company eventually changed its name to Panasonic.)

Meanwhile, the Toshiba design would be exported to Taiwan and produced by Tatung (Datung), and its successors are still in production today.

Hitachi’s innovation was obvious: there’s an on-off switch, so the cooker can be kept warm.

The switch enables you to keep the appliance plugged in. By this time, all rice cookers had a stay-warm mode, to keep the rice hot, so the bacteria would not grow. In Japanese households, the rice cooker was, basically, always on, because rice was eaten with every meal. There was no need for an “off” state.

In the US, the power switch allowed you to shut the cooker off, wash it out, and then keep it on the counter for the next use, which might be more than one day in the future.

The Chime-Omatic did exceedingly well in Cajun country.

The National cooker is unusual in that it sports a chrome finish. The iconic rice cooker came in white. Some were painted in an ivory or creme color. I never saw chrome until I bought this cooker.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_cooker

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Sold: Cookbook for Robert and Mary Fujioka Mid-Century Industrial Designer

For sale on Ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/264388678548

Community created cookbook for Fujioka anniversary. Many different recipes with a fairly large number of Japanese American community recipes.

Possible connection via USC Industrial Design school, search for “Alumni with Designs for an Industrial Archive

Possible connection of Robert Fujioka to the company Design West as founder. Search for “pacific citizen a strong bond continues“. He may have been an internee at Manzanar relocation camp, and went to design school at USC.

Search for “California Design 9 1965 by MR Design” and search for “design west” within it for examples of Design West products.

Design West Incorporated 3669 W. 6th St, Los Angeles – associated with designing classic Samsonite attache case of the 1960s. Search for LA Times article “Design West Plans to Market the Goods It Styles

From the LA Times article:
So, when Samsonite, then Fujioka’s and Ellsworth’s principal client, offered to make Design West a wholly owned subsidiary with few strings attached, the partners readily accepted.

Over the next several years, Design West created the look of Samsonite’s patio furniture, luggage, brief cases and folding chairs and tables in addition to handling a variety of outside clients.

From the Pacific Citizen article:

He started high school in Chicago, working after hours to support himself. When the group’s sponsor, Mr. Temple, died of a heart attack after their arrival in Chicago, Robert said, I was told that I had to leave the city because I had no sponsor.” He moved to Minneapolis to finish high school, graduating in 1943 while working at night at a foundry shoveling charcoal and later at a granary to support himself. After high school he started college after being told the Navy and Air Force would not let him enlist. A quarter and a half into college, with the war still going on in Europe, he was drafted into the Army, serving two years in the infantry and avoided being deployed to Europe because the war ended.

Fujioka returned to West Los Angeles, living in a boarding house, and attending the University of Southern California on the G.I. Bill majoring in industrial design.

While living in West Los Angeles, Robert Fujioka said he knew of the Yoshiro “Babe” and Shizuko Fujioka family (the “other Robert Fujioka at the reunion) because they lived across the street from the boarding house where he stayed. He met with the “other Fujioka family” while at the reunion.

Robert’s wife, Mary (née Honda), was sent to Manzanar at the beginning of the war when she was 11-1/2 years old, but unlike his brief stay there, she was in the camp from 1942 until August of 1945. They met when her family moved to West Los Angeles when Manzanar closed and according to Robert she walked by his boarding house one day and he called out to her, “What’s your name?” and that, as he said with a grin, “was the being of a beautiful relationship that has lasted through 60 years of marriage.” They have one son whose name is Mark.

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Toshiba ER-8 Rice Cooker, Historic 炊飯器

Up for Auction: Toshiba ER-8 Rice Cooker, Historic 炊飯器

The Toshiba ER-8 is a larger version of the ER-4, the original rice cooker to gain widespread acceptance in the Japanese market.

The main difference from the later style is that there’s an outer pot and an inner pot, and the timing was controlled by adding water between the two pots. The water would boil, and the heat and steam would cook the food.

This design is no longer sold by Toshiba, but Taiwanese industrial Tatung has a copycat cooker that is still in production and can be purchased new for around $130.

I have listed mine for sale in the 300s, but others are selling these at much lower prices.

These are opportunities to buy historic products at low prices. It appears that, after the ER series, the product was given “RC”, which continues to the present day.

The early models employed the pot-within-a-pot style, rather than the single pot used in current cookers.

A sale concluded in January 2020, a Toshiba RC-10H, for 39.95 + free shipping.

Seller ebernardo98 has two for sale:

Toshiba RC-10H New in original box.

Toshiba RC-10B in original box.

Seller vquillen18 is selling a vintage Toshiba RC-4B.

The RC-180D may also be a pot-within-a-pot style cooker, but it’s hard to be certain.

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Probabilities, and California Lottery Decco Playing Cards

The market suddenly got flooded with these California Lottery Decco playing cards. So I’m keeping mine out for a while. If you want one, I will mail it to you for $8.

As of Jan 21, there are 13 sellers.

These are US Playing Card cards, so feel like Bicycle cards.

They have 1980s style graphics on the back, with the iconic California Lottery logo.

The Decco game was pretty simple. You pick 4 cards, and if you match the day’s Decco game,  you get $5,000.  If you match 1,  you get a free play.

So this is a “4/52” game, where you pick 4 from 52 cards.

Owlcation has a good article about calculating lotto probabilities.

The formula is 52! / ( 4! ( 52 – 4 )! ) = 270725.

So the odds of winning are 1 in 270,725.

The odds of matching 1 are 4 in 52, or 1 in 13.

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Scissor Switch Keyboard vs Mechanical

A scissor switch keyboard refers to a mechanism under the keycap that helps to balance out the forces on the top of the key, and allows for a flatter keyboard.

A mechanical keyboard refers to the way the switch actuates, but doesn’t specify the exact mechanism. It’s called “mechanical” to distinguish it from the more common membrane keyboard.

How Keys Feel

There is one keyboard that gets classified as mechanical, but is actually a membrane keyboard: the legendary IBM “clicky” keyboards, often called the “M”. The mechanism is called a buckling spring, and it’s a mechanism that emulates the IBM Selectric typwriter’s keys, but a bit lighter. The key buckles, and the a small plastic lever presses the membrane switch.

A scissor switch keyboard is also a membrane keyboard. The main difference between a regular membrane keyboard and the scissor switch keyboard is the shape of the membrane, and the hardness of the membrane switch. Generally, scissor switch keyboards have stiffer domes, and the keycap sits right on top of the dome.

With regular membrane keyboards, the dome is higher, requires less pressure, and travels down farther before actuating. That said, different keyboards feel different. Compaq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Logitech, Apple, and Microsoft all have their fans. They feel different.

For mechanical switch keyboards, there are a variety of different options. Some switches actuate near the top of the keystroke, and some actuate lower down. Some bottom out to a hard surface, and others hit a soft bottom, and some people add rubber o-rings to create a soft bottom. Some switches click, and others are silent. Some switches require more force than others.

Flexibility

You can replace keycaps on many keyboards, but the different brands are generally not interchangeable.

Keycaps on mechanical keyboards are more uniform, and they all match the Cherry keytop, so you can replace the keycaps.

Mechanical keyboards can be repaired. If a switch fails, you can desolder it, and install a new switch. Switches are $1.50 to around $3, so it’s an inexpensive fix if you know  how to disassemble the keyboard and solder in a new switch.  If  you don’t… it’s a bit more expensive.

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Depression and Postwar California Pottery

Thrifting and seeking in the Los Angeles area hasn’t been that great for glassware and ceramics, at least the well known kinds that show up online. Chicago, all of Ohio, and some areas of the East Coast seem to turn up great examples of cut glass, blown glass, ceramics, and lamps.

That’s largely due to the fact that the Los Angeles area didn’t get huge until the 1930s, and didn’t have many local potteries and glassworks. Then, in the postwar era, with imports restricted, the Los Angeles area, and some other areas, flourished, and there were hundreds of potteries.

Consequently, I find a lot of California pottery from the postwar era, and a little bit from the Depression era. So far, I’ve found Bauer, Metlox, Coors, Gladding McBean (Franciscan and Catalina), Maddux, and Weil.

I haven’t kept track of tile, but there’s a lot out there. You can find some of the well known items like Batchelder at some antique stores.

The heyday of California potteries ended in the 1960s, when relaxed import restrictions were lifted, and imports from Japan increased. US companies couldn’t compete with the less expensive imports.  I also find a lot of china from this period, often branded with companies from the Los Angeles area, but manufactured in Japan. This is the stuff I grew up with, and am most familiar with.

Memories? Not Really

So, going backward in time to the 1940s and 1950s, is new to me. I have had some plates from that era, but not that many. We did use some, but, again, not that many. My mother was buying her stuff from the 1970s and onward, so, it was mostly imports like Mikasa.

Most of my current research about California pottery is studying the Kovels book about Depression Glass and American Dinnerware.

Being On the Lookout

I’m not starting to try and spot a few kilns that are local to me. First is Vernon Pottery, which would be maybe a mile or two from where I live.

Second is Pacific Pottery, which operated in Los Nietos, now a part of Whittier, and also had a plant in Lincoln Heights on Ave 26, which three blocks from a Goodwill, and the St. Vincents I frequent.  (The old plant was at the corner they call Ave 26 tacos.)

Both are prewar kilns, so their stuff isn’t plentiful today. I suspect the people who owned it all died, and their plates were in the thrift shops by the 1990s. I bet they are in antique shops.

Lead Risks?

I don’t buy much of the pottery, because it’s chipped. That harms the resale value. There’s plenty I’d like to buy, even with chips, but I wouldn’t be able to use them, because the glazes may contain lead or other harmful metals.

See Also

Colorware at the Maximalist – an excellent history.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-13/marketplace/sns-201406051730–tms–smartclctnda-a20140613-20140613_1_china-plates-pattern

https://putnamandspeedwell.com/category/ohio-river-pottery/

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Sanyo DRW1000 DVD Recorder with VCR – setting up to digitize home video, and revisiting formats

I picked one of these up because it was at the thrift shop, and I have some videotapes I wanted to convert to a digital format.  DVD recording seemed a lot easier, and cheaper, than using a video digitizer on the computer.

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How to Remove the Sticky Glue From a Security Warranty Sticker

If you’re buying used electronics, you might find one of these stickers on your device.  If you remove it, you lose  your right to return it, so don’t remove it until the return or warranty period is over.

When you peel it, it leaves behind little silver bits, and a lot of sticky, gummy glue. The best cleaner to remove the adhesive is Goo Gone.  I’ll explain why, after the jump.

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