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Tag Archives: ikea

  • At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction
    A lot of restaurants now use ingredients that are “locally sourced” or “from the farm”, but how true is that really? You usually just trust whatever is on the menu, but this food critic actually followed through and did some investigating. Not surprisingly, a lot of places lie.

    Dorsey said he buys pork from a small Tallahassee farm through food supplier Master Purveyors. But Master Purveyors said it doesn’t sell pork from Tallahassee. Dorsey said he uses quail from Magnolia Farms in Lake City. Master Purveyors said the quail is from Wyoming. Dorsey said he buys dairy from Dakin Dairy Farms in Myakka through Weyand Food Distributors. Weyand said it doesn’t distribute Dakin. Dorsey said he gets local produce from Suncoast Food Alliance and Local Roots. Both said they have not sold to The Mill. He named three seafood suppliers. Two checked out, but a third, Whitney and Son, said they had not sold to The Mill yet. They hope to in the future.

  • The Weird Economics Of Ikea
    This article talks about how Ikea handles its pricing for some of its most popular items, including two that I had around when I was a child – the lack table and the poang which I used as “computer chair” since it was more comfortable than a swivel chair.

    Indeed, the products have evolved. In 1992, part of the Poäng was changed from steel to wood, allowing the chair to ship more densely and efficiently in the company’s flat packs. (“Shipping air is very expensive,” Marston said.) And the Lack table was changed from solid wood to a honeycomb “board on frame” construction, decreasing production costs and increasing shipping efficiency. Baxter theorizes, though, that if a product is finicky — requiring design in Sweden, manufacture in China and intricate pieces from Switzerland, say — it may eventually be abandoned.

  • ‘I thought I was smarter than almost everybody’: my double life as a KGB agent
    A real life story from a former KGB spy where he discusses a bit about his training to become a spy. There are also some bits about being undercover, but frankly, that is pretty boring!

    Barsky, as he now was, moved to New York, carrying his new birth certificate. With that, he got a membership card at the Natural History Museum. And, with that, he got a library card and then a driver’s licence. He covered his hands and face with grime and did not wash for days before applying for a social security card; he had always worked as a farmhand, he told them, and never needed one. It worked.

  • ‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death
    This is a long article that serves as proof that various agencies within the UK have thought about and planned for the Queen’s inevitable death. Like much of the monarchy, this future event will be micromanaged to handle the press and reaction.

    The first plans for London Bridge date back to the 1960s, before being refined in detail at the turn of the century. Since then, there have been meetings two or three times a year for the various actors involved (around a dozen government departments, the police, army, broadcasters and the Royal Parks) in Church House, Westminster, the Palace, or elsewhere in Whitehall. Participants described them to me as deeply civil and methodical. “Everyone around the world is looking to us to do this again perfectly,” said one, “and we will.” Plans are updated and old versions are destroyed. Arcane and highly specific knowledge is shared. It takes 28 minutes at a slow march from the doors of St James’s to the entrance of Westminster Hall. The coffin must have a false lid, to hold the crown jewels, with a rim at least three inches high.

  • How Lego Became The Apple Of Toys
    This article raises the parallel that Lego is the Apple of toys because they are looking for innovative ways to get their products in the hands of children. I don’t really buy it though, particular because their goal is “that Lego continue to create innovative play experiences and reach more children every year”. Except then they go to great lengths to talk about how their products are appealing to adults.

    Eight years ago, a Chicago architect named Adam Reed Tucker, who had been building impressive Lego models of iconic buildings, reached out to Lego, suggesting that the company might be interested in making official kits similar to his homemade creations. “Doing anything that wasn’t for the target group, which was boys between, say, 5 and 11, used to be almost a complete no-go,” says David Gram, Future Lab’s head of marketing and business development. But a free-thinking Norwegian Lego exec named Paal Smith-Meyer—Holm admiringly describes him as “a true rebel”—saw value in AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) and came up with a stealthy, shoestring plan to prove their worth to the company. It came in the form of a counteroffer—which would help usher in the current era of innovation at Lego.

  • A Question of Privilege
    Depending how you write a story, it can be viewed as a privileged or unprivileged life. Here’s one example.
  • The hidden price Steph Curry pays for making the impossible seem effortless
    The first article I read about Steph Curry (so far). I’m sure there will be many more written about him throughout his career.

    Curry has dramatically scaled back his commitments. The offers still come in “on an almost daily basis,” Austin says, but mostly, the answer is no. His deals with State Farm and Express recently concluded, and he won’t renew. Instead, going forward Curry has prioritized a few lucrative contracts that feel true to him and bespeak a clean message. There are no candy or fast food commercials; instead he endorses Brita water filters. And of course Under Armour, which renegotiated to give him equity in the company and a royalty-cut of his sneaker sales. If he takes on anything new it will be something that offers him a stake, and doesn’t require a lot of appearances, or photo and video shoots.

  • The Minecraft Generation
    An article in the NY Times that talks about how Minecraft might be this generation’s garage tinkering for budding engineers.

    Redstone transports energy between blocks, like an electrical connection. Attach a block that contains power — a redstone “torch,” for example, which looks like a forearm-size matchstick — to one end of a trail of redstone, and anything connected to the other end will receive power. Hit a button here, and another block shifts position over there. Persson ingeniously designed redstone in a way that mimics real-world electronics. Switches and buttons and levers turn the redstone on and off, enabling players to build what computer scientists call “logic gates.” Place two Minecraft switches next to each other, connect them to redstone and suddenly you have what’s known as an “AND” gate: If Switch 1 and Switch 2 are both thrown, energy flows through the redstone wire. You can also rig an “OR” gate, whereby flipping either lever energizes the wire.

    These AND and OR gates are, in virtual form, the same as the circuitry you’d find inside a computer chip. They’re also like the Boolean logic that programmers employ every day in their code. Together, these simple gates let Minecraft players construct machines of astonishing complexity.

  • The Ikea Way
    Another IKEA article but this one is focused more on how IKEA does globalization

    Ikea used to be pretty lousy at expansion. When the company first went into the U.S. market in 1985, it forgot it was a retailer. Instead it behaved like an exporter, taking beds and cabinets measured in centimeters and plopping them down in its first U.S. store near Philadelphia. Even sales successes happened for the wrong reasons: Americans bought an inordinate amount of Ikea vases … using them as water glasses. The European-size ones were too small to satiate Americans’ preference for ice.

  • A controversial theory may explain the real reason humans have allergies
    Not really controversial, but the theory is new to me and possibly you.

    We know that allergens often cause physical damage. They rip open cells, irritate membranes, slice proteins into tatters. Maybe, Medzhitov thought, allergens do so much damage that we need a defense against them. “If you think of all the major symptoms of allergic reactions–runny noses, tears, sneezing, coughing, itching, vomiting and diarrhoea–all of these things have one thing in common,” said Medzhitov. “They all have to do with expulsion.” Suddenly the misery of allergies took on a new look. Allergies weren’t the body going haywire; they were the body’s strategy for getting rid of the allergens.

  • Is the IKEA ethos comfy or creepy?
    A look at the cult-ure that is IKEA, and how it became successful.

    In 2007, BJURSTA, an extendable oak-veneer dining table, cost two hundred and ninety-nine dollars. Mindful of the recession and of rising wood prices, IKEA hollowed out the legs (which reduced the weight, making transport cheaper) and consolidated the manufacture of parts (bigger orders cost less). Customers appreciated that the table was lighter and less expensive. The more tables they bought, the more IKEA lowered the price. By 2011, BJURSTA cost a hundred and ninety-nine dollars.

  • The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch
    In contrast, here’s the story of how Abercrombie & Fitch went from a success to an also-ran.

    Abercrombie & Fitch went public in 1996. It had about 125 stores, sales of $335 million, and profits of almost $25 million. Jeffries wrote a 29-page “Look Book” for the sales staff. Women weren’t allowed to wear makeup or colored nail polish. Most jewelry was forbidden. So were tattoos. Hair had to be natural and preferably long. Men couldn’t have beards or mustaches. The only greeting allowed was: “Hey, what’s going on?” Store managers spent one day a week at their local college campus recruiting kids with the right look. They started with the fraternities, sororities, and sports teams. Managers forwarded photos of potential employees to headquarters for approval.

  • Have a scientific problem? Steal an answer from nature
    I thought this article would talk about how we’re using nature as a muse to solve problems, but instead it just talked about how nature has solved its problems in the optimal way.

    Some of the most interesting examples of optimality in biology take the form of exquisitely sensitive and discriminating sensors. Our own eyes provide a surprising instance of this. We are all aware that our vision is not the best to be found in the animal kingdom. We can’t see in the dark like many of our pets, and we have nothing close to the acuity of a bird of prey. But inside our eyes, on our retinas, are photoreceptors that can detect individual photons. The quantum nature of light means that, for light in the visible (to us) spectrum, it is physically impossible for our photoreceptors to be any better.

  • Father, Son and the Double Helix
    The use of genetic testing is a burgeoning industry…in India….to determine if a son is legitimate or not. I guess it’s not that surprising that commercial application of the science is happening, and it makes a lot of sense in this case.

    The trickiest case of a child swap he has dealt with was also one that became a primetime sensation. “In the late 80s, I came to India from the US at the request of the Delhi Police, who were facing incredible pressure to solve a child swap case in Safdarjung Hospital that was all over the media,” he says. Five couples had had babies in the hospital on the same day, four of them had died, and the only one alive, a girl child, was being turned down by the supposed mother, who claimed she remembered feeding a male baby before it was taken from her by the staff for a clean- up. “This was double trouble. Where was her child, then, and who did the baby girl belong to? The police brought up the remaining four couples and I took all their DNA samples. But meanwhile, the police was in a hurry to close the publicised case so they brought a male baby found at a railway crossing and gave it to the mother saying that must be her missing son. Before I could present the results of the paternity and maternity tests, the mother had accepted the boy as her own, even persuading me to believe that the newborn’s nose was just like her husband’s.” Dr Mehra, how ever, carried on with the investigations and what emerged at the end of it was bewildering. “We dug up the remains of the four dead children. It turned out that the lady’s son was amongst the dead, and the baby girl belonged to one of four couples who had gone back to their village and observed every ritual of mourning for the dead child. The woman who had lost the son decided to keep the baby from the railway track and raise it as her own.”

  • Scorched Earth, 2200AD
    A somewhat disappointing article which teased to talk about how we would live in the climate changed Earth of next century, but only a few paragraphs are spent on that topic.

Apollo has finally reached an age where he can play with his train set (and not simply try and smash the tracks together to make noise)! We received a base Thomas the Tank engine set as a gift and while that is a fun starter kit, there isn’t enough variation after awhile.

Buying wooden Thomas sets (or one of the other name-brand brands like Brio) is super, super expensive. I suppose you’re would consider them family heirlooms since they don’t really break or age (although the paint is starting to rub off of Thomas), and technological advances (i.e., motorized/compact versions) just don’t feel the same.

In any case, instead of buying some more Thomas sets, we went the cheap route and bought 2 IKEA additions which were relatively affordable (under $20 each), had a nice variety of cars and tracks, and more or less fit the Thomas tracks. The train gauge is the same, the majority of the pieces fit together (although the connections are not exactly the same so some types will not fit together and often you have to work to fit them in) but the polarity of the car magnets are reversed. Not a big deal as the savings in price is significant.

The best part about the train set is not moving the cars around, but coming up with interesting configurations for the tracks. Here are a couple I setup. Apollo doesn’t understand or appreciate the intricacies of making novel tracks yet as he’s more interested in connecting cars into a long chain, and sliding them down hills into the station but at some point hopefully he will!

This article about IKEA and Chinese people resonates with me. I don’t know why, but I guess it means that I really am Chinese!

Like these people in Beijing, I don’t mind going to Ikea just for the experience (much to Pauline’s chagrin). I wouldn’t say I am crazy like the Chinese though (although unfortunately this is incredibly believable):

Every weekend, thousands of looky-loos pour into the massive showroom to use the displays. Some hop into bed, slide under the covers and sneak a nap; others bring cameras and pose with the decor. Families while away the afternoon in the store for no other reason than to enjoy the air conditioning.

I especially love how the “cheapness” of the Chinese is captured:

It was the prospect of a satisfying and inexpensive meal that brought Luo Jing and her mother, sister and boyfriend into IKEA for the first time one Saturday. The group was resting in the sofa section, each carrying waxy paper cups worn in by one soda refill after another.


IKEA has the added challenge of copycats. Brazen customers are known to come in with carpenters armed with measuring tapes to make replicas. Zhang, the office manager visiting with his family, said he bought a TV table and a couch elsewhere that looked just like IKEA furniture.

“Why spend so much money when you can have the same thing cheaper?” he said.

and finally, how is this not me?

On another day, He Peng showed up with his compact Sony digital camera, which he uses to snap Beijing’s modern landmarks. He shot the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium and the Apple Store in a tony outdoor shopping mall, then set his sights on IKEA.

“There’s so much great stuff here,” said He, 23. “I didn’t know where to start.”

He photographed his friends beating each other with stuffed toys. Then he methodically went through the store, snapping away at beds, kitchen counters and even the extra-long hot dogs at the snack bar.

I spent the past 4-day long weekend moving and building our new home. I didn’t move any furniture from my parents’ place so I just had to move my (packed) belongings. That also meant I didn’t need movers, so I assembled a couple car loads of stuff and drove it over to the new place.

This also meant that I had no where to put my belongings. Even though I said that I didn’t want Ikea furniture, I still don’t have any non-Ikea furniture in our home! We first went to Ikea on Sunday to buy a couple of bookcases and desks. But they didn’t have all the items we wanted (so we had to come back on Monday), and there was a huge line for delivery. We tried to load some of our purchases in the car to build that night (and then deliver the rest) and it was at this point that we realized that the desks we bought were the wrong color! Apparently they put the wrong color in the bin (although we should have been more careful in checking the SKU). Anyways, we ended up returning everything.

We went back on Monday morning, and it was a much more pleasant experience. We were able to grab (all) our items from the self-serve, pay and setup delivery in 20 minutes. So the moral of the story is to avoid Ikea on weekends.

On Friday, we went to Ikea because they had a midnight madness sale between 8pm and midnight. We were looking for deals on furniture because the week before last, we had picked out and rented a condo for July 1st occupancy. Yep, that’s right, I’m (finally) moving out (again).

We actually found a place pretty quickly, although if I were to do it again, I would have started the process a little earlier. We had a neighborhood picked out and Pauline started looking at ads in early June. We picked a few promising ones, and went out early Saturday morning to view them. We ended up seeing 7 places and made were ready to make an offer on a couple of them. It’s difficult to negotiate price when the market pretty much agrees on a set price (although the savings is significant – we got $25 off which is $300 one or two gadgets a year), plus the turnaround time was frustrating. I didn’t want to have to go back and forth and have to deal with it across a week-or-two span. Luckily for us, we were able to secure the deal on our first offer.

Now, it’s a matter of moving and getting furniture. Ikea is surely a great source for affordable furniture; but I’m kind of tired of living like a student/bum, and a lot of Ikea furniture makes me feel like I’m living like a bum.