Do you have a collection? If so, what do you collect and why?

I have several,

About 50 Nascar 1/24 scale die cast cars. I like them. They emulate speed and teamwork.

Silver Strike Coins from Casino’s in Las Vegas. Not a complete set, but I have a bunch of them. I like to display them in my living room.

Souvenir Pencil Sharpeners. I first bought some of these at a yard sale years ago. My kids fell in love with them, and played with them. Over time I got more, not the rare ones, but ones that had a visual appeal or seemed very cool; I have a display case with them in my living room. These are cheap collectibles, they break easily, but they are small vignettes of cars, exotic places, old household items of years past, etc., and my grandchildren enjoy them. (And if they break some, who cares? I can get replacements on eBay for a few bucks each).

Now you know three of the things I enjoy collecting, most of which I have acquired over time. They don’t take up a lot of space, and are not Uber-valuable; They appeal to me and I enjoy that my family and friends get a kick out of them.

I hope you enjoyed peeking into my collections (yes, those are actual pictures of my “stuff”, taken with my Nikon D5600 DSLR), and that you will be inspired to accumulate things that bring you some self-indulgent joy!

Thank you for reading this article on  my collections!  Please feel free to like, upvote, and share!

Do slot machine attendants know which machines are most likely to payout? Will they usually tell you if you ask them?

Slot attendants, and floor mechanics do not know what machines are likely to pay out. The payouts are triggered by a slot machines RNG (random Number generator), and there is no way to know when the next payout will occur, and how big it is.

Some casinos do print a “hot sheet”, which shows which machines are paying out the most, and the staff may share that with you (if their casino prints it, and lets them share). A hot sheet usually shows that the machines with the most play have the most winners – not which machines are “overdue” to release a huge payday for a lucky gambler.

It would be more prudent for a gambler (IMHO) to pay attention to the pay tables on any machine they fancy. As an example, progressive slot machines will only make huge payouts if you bet the maximum ONLY – so it is smart to play progressive machines only with a maximum bet. If you are killing time and want to extend your play by betting smaller amounts, choose a machine that pays out proportionately on any bet.  Or the smaller bet you are willing to wager.

Book on winning at Slot Machines – amazon

Every play on the slot machine has the same odds of winning – despite our belief system that may believe luck, fate, lucky rabbits feet, and timing are somehow working in our karmic favor.

Even if the slot attendant had a “hunch” that some machines are ready to “hit”, they would not tell you – because they could get fired if you did not win and complained to the floor manager.  It most likely violates their employment agreement as well.  Most would suggest that “people seem to be having good luck over there” implying that you move to some other, more popular,  machines.

Rather than pester the low-paid slot attendants, you would do well to become a “session” gambler, to prevent giving your entire bankroll to one machine – or one table.  For example, if a session gambler is going to wager a total of $500 on a visit to the casino, the gambler can make that 10 $50 “sessions”.  Putting $50 into the machine to start the session, and playing it until:

  • The $50 is gone (start a new session at a different machine)
  • A Jackpot came in for $100 or more (cash out that session and start a new one on the same machine, if you think it’s hot, but put that $100 or more in your winnings pocket). FYI – A slot machine will take back your entire winnings and your bankroll over time; move around a bit.
  • The Big Jackpot came in (call me, I will tell you how to manage it!)

If you happen to meet a regular at the casino, that person can be a goldmine of information (“nobody wins at those machines”) (“people who play the double diamond machine always seem to win big”).  These observations may be coming from a half drunk casino dweller, or an “out on the town” businessman, but the insight may be thought provoking.  Some machines will take your money faster, so it may seem that “no one wins” on those machines.

Slot Machine T-shirts available on eBay

So keep your eyes and ears open, watch your bankroll (sessions), talk to the locals, understand the paytables, and try not to get mad or cry if your not winning; it may not be your lucky day – so try the buffet!

If you take the time to learn and practice discipline in the casino, you will keep your spending in check, limit impulsive bets, and teach yourself to look beyond the machines and take in the ambience.  You might even have fun!

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.

My Tribute to Burning Man 2018

This weekend is the start of Burning Man 2018.  I have had a personal fascination with Burning Man, harboring a desire to build an “Art Car” and join the festival in the desert.

The closest I came to Burning Man is the Exhibit at the Renwick Gallery in DC, which had artwork, the continuing story of Burning Man,  and a replica of the Temple – which caught me unaware, as it had an almost mystical feel to it.

This YouTube video may leave you with more questions than answers.
But That is totally OK.

Burning Man is an experiential Arts festival on a dry lakebed in the Nevada Desert.  the environment is fine dust, heat, and sunshine during the day – and fine dust, chilly, and filled with light at night.  Take a look at the official Burning Man Picture Gallery.

A city is built for a week in the desert, local transportation is mostly by (tricked out) bicycles (so you can find yours)  and “Art Cars” (note:  Art cars have been renamed Mutant Vehicles), Which are built just for  tooling around the city of approximately 70,000 people who come to the festival.  Google has an “unofficial map” of Black rock City and the Playa. The map has pictures of some art installations, and a detailed, zoomable map.

Many participants contribute to the festival, building their exhibits, Art cars, costumes, and more – months or a year in advance of the event.

Many of the costumes are practical as well as inspiring.  Stream punk goggles and masks keep the fine lake dust from choking and blinding participants, and layers of clothing can prevent sunburn or keep “Burners” (BM attendees/participants) warm.

If you are not handy, you can buy Burning man outfits and accessories on Amazon and eBay.

I may not get to burning man any time soon, but my fantasy of building an art car and trekking to the desert is an exciting dream, and I think of ways my bicycle can be tricked out for the festival, and if I would rent an RV – maybe with friends – to get to the Black Rock Desert.

After the finale, everyone takes everything – trash, exhibits, etc. – away, leaving the lake bed as it was when they arrived.

Which place has the best coffee; Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or Tim Hortons, or Peets?

This is primarily personal preference; and keep in mind that coffee can vary in flavor just by sitting after brewing for a long time, or if you add sugar, creamer, flavorings, etc. to the coffee.

My personal opinion is to rate Starbucks , Peets, Tim Horton, and dunkin donuts as my #1, 2, 3, and 4 picks, for best coffee of the choices presented.

Peet’s coffee is really good. If we were in Seattle or Hawaii, all bets are off – Seattle has awesome coffee all over the place, and Kona coffee – especially fresh made while visiting Hawaii, is exceptional.

All of these coffee’s can be brewed at home too – they sell their beans, and you can get a burr type grinder to grind them just before you brew, making a superb cup of coffee.  I even grind beans that go into my Keurig single cup machine, using  a special, reusable K cup (links to Amazon site).  (Please don’t hate on me for using a Keurig – it’s convenient and gives me lots of choices when brewing just one cup).  Besides, I do recycle them (link to my recycling prototype).

I enjoy a good cup of coffee. Disclaimer: I do own some Starbucks stock.

Add your choice in the comments.

Where can I find my favorite slot machine, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”?

The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Slot machine is a Marilyn Monroe reel machine introduced by IGT.

The “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” machine is listed on the  World Casino Index.

At this time, IGT has not licensed the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Slot machine for on-line gaming; you will need to find a physical casino that has one on it’s gaming floor.

How to find a specific Slot Machine:

Most casinos have a “Slot Finder” tool on their website, or list all the available slot machines they currently have in operation. Some of the larger casino websites have location maps so you can find them easier.

Since all Casino’s change up their mix of machines, it is always a good idea to ask the slot attendant if they know of the machine you are looking for. If the casino does not have a slot finder, you can call the casino directly and ask if they have that machine on the floor.

Marilyn Monroe is a very popular theme at the Casinos.

Marilyn Monroe casino coins, silver strikes, and more on Ebay

Marilyn Monroe coins and collectibles on Amazon

I hope you find this machine in your local casino!

Best of Luck in and out of the Casino’s!


I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative. 

What kind of driver should I use when golfing, especially for long drives?

Everybody has a different swing in golf. Go to your pro shop or golf shop at the driving range, and try several different drivers. Ask the pro to help you select a club, and get lessons on increasing your drives.

The technology in golf clubs keeps changing. Shaft flex, club head design, grip patterns, and more are giving golfers more forgiving swings and greater range.

Some stores (Dicks sporting goods, Golf galaxy, etc.) have indoor golf simulators, so you can try out a new driver at the shop.  Or you can buy a driver on Amazon or Ebay, where you can save a bit of money.

But you still need to find the club that works best for you. (regardless of your brand preference).

How to drive the golf ball as far as you possibly can, by Ian Hardie, On Amazon

And, as the Bridgestone people showed me, the golf balls you use will make a difference too. If your main goal is a long drive, find the ball that gives you more distance. I mention Bridgestone here because they set up at courses and driving ranges, using technology to demonstrate how their different balls affect your play. I prefer a softer ball now.

Bridgestone e6 Soft Golf Balls – 2 Dozen, from Amazon

Golf Balls on Ebay

It’s also a good idea to have an exercise routine for your golf game,  to condition your body for those long hard swings, and reduce fatigue.  Spending 3-4 hours golfing is hard on the body, and you need to be in-shape.  Pro golfers tend to make it look easy – but they are working hard.

Hand Strengtheners, available on Amazon

Golf Swing Trainers, available on Ebay

Use your regular driver and balls as the baseline for your search, and take notes (use a notebook) to record each clubs drive distance, accuracy, and feel.

Best of luck – hit ’em straight and LONG!

(And let me know how you did, and if my advice helped you)!

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.

Home Depot can’t copy a car key with a chip – WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Home Depot copies most common household keys (Kwikset, Schlage, etc.), but not programmable chip car keys.

All is not lost!  Car keys with a chip have to be programmed by a machine.  The car dealers do it, and some locksmiths do as well.  Some Sears stores have a key kiosk in their parking lots that do it while you wait.

When you go to a dealer, they usually refuse to guarantee any key they did not sell you (usually at full retail, plus the “programming fee”).  While this is a necessary theft deterrent, it is wretchedly expensive.   There are deals on craigslist and from locksmiths if you shop around – the savings can be significant, so it can be worthwhile!

This blog explains why car keys cost so much to program – from the locksmith point of view.

You can buy the blank, unprogrammed keys on Ebay or Amazon.  Make sure you get the right one for your make and model of car.  Also check your keychain remote, if it is worn or has issues, you can replace and reprogram it at the same time.  (personal note;  mine had the ink worn off the buttons, and the case was worn – so I got a new fob, and moved the battery and circuit board from the old one into the new one.  no reprogramming, and it works like new)!

If you want to reprogram the key  yourself:

You can buy a car key programmer like this one from Amazon for about $100

The programming tool may cost as much as programming the key at the dealer; if this is the case – and you have a few cars in the family fleet – It may pay to get the tool and keep it around.  You will have to learn how it works, and successfully program the key, but the savings on the second key (and every one after that) will make up the cost in a short order.

Most cars today come with two keys and a valet key.  The Valet key does not open the trunk or the glove box, to keep items safe when you have your car parked by an attendant.  If you have only one key, keep this article handy!

Thank you for reading!

Where do I find info about slot machines?

1947 Mills "Golden Nugget" slot machine

Slot machines, to me, are lots of fun!  Here are some tips about getting the most info from your slot machines – play as you learn.

I get a lot of good information from Casino City Times – Gaming Gurus  – Frank Scoblette is a good source of information on Slots.  I also Like Casino Gambling Strategy – Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Three Card Poker, Slots, Video Poker – from

One of the hardest disciplines to learn is managing your bankroll, or gambling money.  I would recommend that you learn to be a session gambler. Divide your bankroll into smaller piles.  For example, take a one hundred dollar bill and divide it into 5 $20 dollar sessions.  When you play a machine, only put in one $20 bill, (or one session).  when the $20 is consumed, your session has ended, and you make the decision to switch machines or start a new session.  If you jackpot, cash-out and end that session – put that money in your back pocket, for later.  If you blow all 5 sessions, hang it up – take a break, and see what else you can do at the casino!

Smart Slot Strategies: A mathematical approach to winning slot machine strategies

Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes and review the paytables on the machines;  paytables have a significant impact on your potential winnings.  Progressive slot machines (where a bank of slots contribute to the pool of prize money) usually require a Maximum Bet to get the big prize.  You can bet less, but that means if you roll the winning combination – you may get a small payout or NOTHING.  Other machines may have graduated payouts regardless of your bet; so if you are playing small wagers to extend your play time at the machine, seek out these machines so you don’t miss any winning opportunities!

Keep an eye on the slot machines maximum bet – usually expressed in credits;  wagering 500 credits on a penny machine is $5.00 for that spin of the reels! If your session is $20, that is only 4 spins – if your session is $100, then you have 20 spins.  More spins mean more opportunity to win (or lose).  Many hard core slot machine players feel you have to wager $200 – $300 on a machine, in order to get any significant winnings.  Decide in advance what your gambling budget is, and space it over your time in the casino – then you have an idea what you are willing to spend on gaming, and can strategize the most practical way to meter your wagering.

If you bump into a slot attendant, they may have a “hot sheet” of machines that have the larger payouts on the floor.  Not all casinos distribute or publish this information, and it usually just tells you which machines are played the most, which is why they have the bigger payouts.


The Mathematics of Slots: Configurations, Combinations, Probabilities

These books can be very helpful.  Read all you can.  Now that slots are mostly electronic, the math and “gambler psychology” play into how the machines work.  Pay attention to paytables, progressives, and the type of machine you are playing!


Best of luck in and out of the casino’s,  -Alan

What is the worst coffee shop in Hawaii?

This is a very subjective question, worthy of reflection and ACTION.

Hawaii is the source of legendary Kona Coffee, grown in the rich volcanic soil in Hawaii.  Since I have not, to my detriment, been to many coffee shops in the great state of Hawaii, I believe a field expedition is needed.

My goal would be to define “Coffee Shop”, and review as many as possible (being my usual honest and reflective self).

11 Days In Kona: Coffee Travel, from Amazon Books

The first series of reviews to be published would be Coffee shops where that is their primary business, not diners or restaurants that serve coffee.
In addition, we would seek out the “Best of the Worst”, serving the most wretched brew that can be served without the health department condemning the business.

I propose we get a kick-starter campaign, or Go fund me, and have a dedicated field expedition to each island and review coffee shops, perhaps 10 a day, focusing on the candidate for the “worst” shop. Part of the money raised can go to the shop for improvements, a website to promote our on-going research, a donation to charity, and supporting the research team.

I would be honored to lead the team in such an endeavor, and if interested readers contact me with their desire to fund and participate, I will build the initial website, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, etc., Start the funding effort, and promote the quest!

Fear not, my Hawaiian brethren, we shall (when funded) find the best of the worst!

“A pau e pono ai ka ke aloha a me ke kope”
(Translation from the Hawaiian: “All you need is love and coffee”)

Wonderful Kona Coffee, from Amazon

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.

Can you trust car companies? which ones?

Car companies are hard to trust.
I have had bad experiences with planned obsolescence, failures due to poor design, dealer behaviors, and paying for repairs covered under “secret warranties”. While I have never owned a Volkswagen, the top-down conspiracy to cheat at the emissions controls demonstrated that the company has had an ingrained culture of deceit that is, to me, unconscionable. And VW is not the only emissions-scamming car company. Fiat, Renault, VW scams will hasten rise of electric car
I currently own a Nissan quest Minivan, and scrupulously avoid the dealer for repairs because of upsells and ludicrously expensive parts. (I just replaced a solenoid, it cost me $15 and 20 minutes of my labor. I was quoted $340). I put in powerstop high-performance brakes because the vehicle is seriously under-braked, most noticeably with a few passengers aboard.
I used to have a Ford van, “Betsy”, which was killed by a Ford Dealer. After a recall repair, I let the dealer change the oil. The highly trained mechanic stripped the oil plug bolt, and put in the wrong size rubber stopper. Most of the oil leaked out in a few hours, and I had to get the right stopper, ruined a blanket with oil so I could get under the truck, add more oil, and pray it was not beyond repair. The dealer was apologetic and told me it was an “old truck”, and tried to sell me a new one. I had to sell Betsy a week later, with an engine rattling on 30 weight oil. I still own Ford Stock, but am not happy with the recalls that just bring you back to the dealer, and the dealers who feel the only way to fix a car is with a new one. This is not unique to Ford, and is a reason why Tesla is not sold through a dealer network. Not all dealers are unscrupulous, look at this example: Calif. dealer won’t sell some Priuses, citing safety concerns – CBS News – I would bring my car to that dealer.
There are big picture issues here too – Look at Automakers Turn to Climate Deniers in Quest to Lower Fuel Economy Regulations ! The Alliance of Automobile manufacturers is working to roll back mileage and emissions standards. Collectively. I find this as reprehensible as when the CEO’s of the auto industry took their corporate jets to Washington when they were begging congress for financial bailouts. Big Three auto CEOs flew private jets to ask for taxpayer money – CNN.
I have been a despairing consumer of automobiles all my life, and find it hard to trust car manufacturers who appear to have corrupt and unethical practices “hard-wired”into their business model, just to milk more profit off of us consumers, while trying to build “brand loyalty”.
The most promising car manufacturer, in my opinion, is Tesla – a newcomer on the market with a well made product and transparency into the company that we normally do not see in large manufacturers. I am hoping my Nissan can be kept going until I can get a model 3! (Disclaimer: I own Tesla stock). Time will tell with Tesla. But the rest of the Auto Manufacturers? Let’s wait and see.
General Motors ignition switch recalls – Wikipedia (10 year story on how not to run your company)
Edit: Take a look at these two pieces on Tesla, highlighting the difficulty in disrupting the current practices in the automobile industry:
How “corrupt” is Tesla? – Quora answers, (I especially enjoyed the one by Kathiravan Jayachandiran)
Being a “car guy” most of my life, I have a lot of optimism that these problems can be replaced with good management and customer focused production.  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and feel free to share your thoughts.
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors  Link is to her Wikipedia page.
In my opinion, she is working hard for responsible and positive change at GM.