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Sold: Polishing the Tea Kettle

Just for the hell of it, I bought some steel wool and started to polish the tea kettle I got several months ago. I set my price pretty high, and it hasn’t sold.

I switched my game to using toothpaste to get a better polish. Here are the results so far.

I have some other polishing compounds, so I’ll try those as well.

I don’t generally associate Showa retro vintage Japanese alumi tea kettles with shiny finishes, but maybe it’ll sell. The patina on the pot, so far, hasn’t had the appeal that I thought it would.

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Showa Retro Auction Site

I stumbled across JAUCE, a site that allows people outside Japan to bid on Yahoo Auctions Japan listings, and pay with PayPal. They charge a fee and the deliver will cost a lot, but that’s how it goes.

What’s amazing, to me, is the appliances section. There’s a ton of Showa Retro consumer goods. People are selling used, old batteries. That’s so weird.

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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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Tokyo XmaS Music Box, Christmas Music Cassette Tape

In Japan, there’s an small genre of music where pop songs are rendered as “music box” music. The familiar song is arranged and played in a music box – or, more likely, a synth programmed with music box sounds.

Have you wanted to hear a music box version of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas”?

What about Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas”?

What about the Japanese hit “Merry Xmas in Summer”?

What about “Christmas Eve” by Tatsuro Yamashita?

Here you go.

You can buy the complete tape on Ebay, at the link below.

Buy on Ebay: Tokyo XmaS Music Box Christmas Music Cassette Tape

You can also contact me directly and I’ll sell it for a little bit less.

If you like this kind of music, search for #r3musicbox on Youtube.

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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