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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.


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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Japan, Islands of the Rising Sun, by Jane Werner Watson – A Deceptive History for Children

I found this library book at the thrift store, and bought it because it was 昭和レトロ Showa Retro USA. Published in 1968, this childrens book, written for elementary school readers, explained the daily life of people in Japan, described some of the traditional culture, described modernization, and covered some parts of history.

The history presented in this book, however, was deceptive.

Remember, this was 1968, during the Cold War, and Japan had been integrated into the US sphere of influence, and had (and has) military bases to threaten China.

The first thing that stood out for me was the story about the rebuilding of Tokyo after WW2, which was necessary after the massive US firebombing campaign which destroyed Tokyo. This incident wasn’t mentioned, directly, though the rebuilding was.

What did they have to say about the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Fortunately, the book provided an index, so I could quickly find all the references to the two cities, and see if the facts about the bombings were also minimized.

Interesting. There’s no entry for Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  There is an entry for Nagasaki under “Cities”, and refers to page 77. The page is part of a section about trade history and how Japan was closed off to foreign trade.

So, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not mentioned. These were the first, and only, uses of the atomic bomb, a significant event in world history, but it was completely omitted from this history of Japan, and also of the United States, in this book.

What about this book’s treatment of World War II? It turns out that there is a section that includes WW2. Given that it was the primary military conflict that defined the relationship between the two countries, and led to the US takeover of Japan, and the inclusion of Japan in the US sphere of influence, there must be something.

There’s approximately one page that covers the Empire of Japan, Japanese imperialism and colonization, World War II, Occupied Japan, and the reconstruction of Japan. It’s the period, not the facts that are described: of all those terms, only “World War II” is used.

US imperialist and trade interests in the South Pacific, as well as China’s participation in the war, are completely left out — but that’s still left out of history, so what can you expect.

Compare the fact that three pages were used to describe the period from 1542 to 1615, which might be called a period of Portugese attempts at religious imperialism, while Japanese imperialism and US imperialism and World War II merited only a single page.

Though this was a childrens book, and you cannot get into too much complexity with them, what amounts to the complete omission of World War II makes me wonder what’s going on here. There are different ways to critique this work, but I haven’t put in the mental energy to do so. You’re on your own.

This deceptive distortion of history is available for sale on Ebay or directly from me.

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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.–tms–smartclctnda-a20140613-20140613_1_china-plates-pattern

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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.

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

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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.

Continue reading How to Remove the Sticky Glue From a Security Warranty Sticker

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HP Devices that use Link5 Technology

HP Link5 is a 2.4Ghz radio technology that allows 5 compatible devices to be paired with one dongle. Link5 was released in 2011.

See HP’s Datasheet on Link-5, including a photo of the dongle.

This site doesn’t recommend the purchase of used Link5 devices that lack dongles, because it’s difficult to find a dongle for sale.  One solution to finding a replacement Link5 dongle is to purchase a new HP mouse that uses Link5.  They include a receiver.

Given the choice between a Link5 HP device, and an HP device that doesn’t use Link5, go with the Link5 device, because you’re less likely to be stranded.

HP continues to sell wireless 2.4Ghz devices that don’t use Link5. According to messages on the HP support forums, HP does not sell receivers, so you must purchase a new device. Evidently, the devices are paired with the dongles at the factory and cannot be altered.

If you have a spare Link5 dongle (your mouse or keyboard got damaged, and your dongle is unused), consider selling it on Ebay. Current web searches show that this dongle sells for over $50 on HP’s website, which is absurd, given that a $23 K3500 keyboard comes with a Link5 dongle.

There’s no comprehensive list of devices that use Link5, but I’ll try to list some mice and keyboards that use Link5.

  • HP Comfort Grip Wireless Mouse(H2L63AA)
  • HP Elite Desktop v2 Keyboard
  • HP Business T6U20UT#ABA Wireless Link-5 Keyboard
  • HP Wireless Mobile Mouse (not all models)
  • HP K3500 Keyboard
  • HP Wireless Mouse X4000
  • Star Wars Special Edition Wireless Mouse (a Mobile Mouse with a SW skin)
  • HP Wireless Link-5 Keyboard T6U20AA
  • HP Wireless Mouse X4500
  • HP Wireless Mini Keyboard
  • HP Wireless Ultrathin Wireless Keyboard
  • HP Wireless Optical Comfort Mouse
  • HP Wireless Laser Comfort Mouse
  • HP Wireless Premium Mouse
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Who Likes Scissor Switch Keyboards

While the gaming world loves the mechanical keyboards, many typists remain fans of the scissor switch.

Partly, this is due to typing style. Typers have, broadly, two different styles of typing: I call them bashers and tappers.

Bashers worry about the sound coming from the keys, and say that laptop or scissor switch keyboards are loud, and complain that laptop keyboards cause pain.  They may type with two fingers, as well.

Tappers complain that the generic silicone membrane keyboards that come with PCs slow them down and feel mushy. They generally touch type, and often know their typing speed, and complain that mechanical keyboards, excepting the older IBMs or similar keyboards, slow them down.

So, what’s going on here?

They have two different typing styles.  The tappers type by pressing down on the keys just enough to actuate the switch, but not far enough to hit the bottom plate. The bashers press down a little farther, and may hit the bottom plate.

So, tappers need some tactile feedback right where the switch actuates.

Scissor switch keyboards have a very short height, so the key travels only 1mm to 2.5mm after the silicone dome gives way, and allows the key to move.  The tactile feedback happens very close to the point of actuation.

So, a typist on a scissor switch keyboard feels the feedback, releases, and the key is usually actuated. They may bottom out at first, but over time, adapt and pull back sooner. Even if they continue to bottom out, the travels distance is pretty short, and I think that you bottom out with less pressure.

This particular way of typing was well known to IBM, when they created the Model F, the original IBM PC keyboard.

IBM was, at the time, known for the Selectric typewriter, and electrical typewriter that had a very heavy mechanism, but could be operated quickly by a typist who learned touch typing.  Touch typing was also known as “typing without looking”, but it was also something else – it was typing as fast as possible by not pressing the keys too far down.

Some tappers who like scissor switch keyboards also like mechanical keyboards that works like the old IBM Model F.  Later, IBM created a keyboard known as the Model M, which has a feel similar to the Model F, but has a silicone dome switch like contemporary keyboards.