Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fun and rare facts about Monopoly, the world’s real estate game.

The world’s most successful real estate agents buy and sell properties with reckless abandon, endeavoring to develop whole streets with houses and hotels, bankrupting their competition while trying to stay out of jail.  It may sound like real life but we’re talking about Monopoly, the most popular board game ever.  In fact, since it’s creation more than 100 years ago, 280 million sets have been sold and more than 1 billion people play in 111 countries.  Here are some other fun facts about our first childhood lesson with buying and selling property:

Monopoly was first conceived in the early 1900’s by Elizabeth Magie, who called it The Landlord’s Game and patented its design in 1904.

The Landlord's Game was first designed to illustrate a couple of advanced economic theories, Ricardo's Law of Economic rent and the Georgist concept of a single tax on land value. 

The object was to show that rents enriched property owners and impoverished tenants

It was the first game that had a continuous path around the board without start or finish, and also the first to have ownership of space on the board (with consequences to any player who lands there, even if the first player wasn’t present.)

Magie first submitted the game to Parker Brothers in 1910, which George Parker declined to publish because he thought it was too complex, took to long, and too political.

Never the less, the game grew in popularity as a teaching tool, used at Wharton, Smith College, the University of Toronto, Columbia, Princeton, and MIT.

England released its own version of The Landlord’s Game in 1913 by the Newbie Game Company, called Brier Fox and Brier Rabbit.

By 1933, a board game had been created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its related companies through the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st.

The purpose of the game is "to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling of property,"

There are 40 spaces on the board.  The official location of these real life properties is Atlantic City, New Jersey.  An early edition had properties from Chicago, like the Loop and Lakeshore Drive.  International editions have different locations, like London for the Commonwealth edition.  Some
By the 1970’s there were Monopoly tournaments all over the world. 

In 1989 a Monopoly spin-off video game was released.

The original patent on The Landlord's Game expired in 1921, after which the game became known simply as Monopoly.

Patented as The Fascinating Game of Finance (later shortened to Finance) that had 4 railroads – one per side, chance, community chest,

Ruth Hoskins learned the game 1945 took it back to Atlantic City and taught Quakers
Reinstate the original rule that property was a set price not auction price

The game’s original character was called Rich Uncle Pennybags.

A man named Charles Darrow had learned a similar homemade game from a friend who learned it in college, and developed the game further and tried to claim it as his own.  He took it to Milton Bradley and tried to sell, setting off 30 years of controversy and lawsuits around Monopoly.  Even as late as the1970’s, it was widely believed that Darrow was the original creator. 

The Landlord’s Game, Inflation, and Finance were some early names or versions of Monopoly. 

The game that resembles our modern version of Monopoly was first marketed on a large scale by Parker Brothers in 1935.

At first the game had a time limit, forcing players to roll the dice, take their turn, and make decisions quickly. 

Monopoly caught on overseas very quickly, with international editions played in the UK, France, and Germany.

The German edition in the 1930’s featured properties in Berlin, but was denounced, allegedly by Joseph Goebbels to the Hitler Youth due to the game's "Jewish-speculative character," though it’s believed he actually didn’t want to disclose real streets and properties where Nazi party members lived. 

Escape maps, compasses and files were inserted into MONOPOLY game boards smuggled into POW camps inside Germany during World War II. Real money for escapees was slipped into the packs of MONOPOLY money

By 1938 the game had reached Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Chile, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, and Austria.

By World War II the game had reached huge popularity in the United States, with 800,000 games selling per year.  During the war years, production of the game was suspended as materials and factories were reserved for items essential to the warm but after 1945, sales jumped to 1 million a year. 

In the 1960s, "Monopoly happenings" and parties popped up.  They had marathon sessions, games played on massive outdoor boards, on the ceiling of a University of Michigan dorm room, and even underwater! 

The longest MONOPOLY game in history lasted for 70 straight days.

There was a Monopoly prime time game show in 1990 with host Mike Reilly and announcer Charlie O’Donnell.

The most expensive version of the game was produced by a famous San Francisco jeweler named Sidney Mobell, a $2 million game with a 23-carat gold board and diamond-studded dice!

The game went mostly without innovation in the modern era, but in 1998 Hasbro held a campaign to add a new token to the game.  The public voted with phone calls, on a website, or at FAO Schwartz stores for a biplane, a piggy bank, or a sack of money.  The sack of money won with 51% of the vote. 

In 1999, Hasbro rebranded the Rich Uncle Pennybags mascot as “Mr. Monopoly.”

Monopoly has had special Star Wars, Pokémon, sports teams, and Millenium editions.

Hasbro released The Electronic Banking Edition in 2006, allowing the use of VISA-branded debit cards and a debit card reader instead of the classic paper bills.

There have been plenty of Monopoly parodies but none as controversial as Ghetoopoly, released in 2003 by David Change.  His game has liquor stores, massage parlors, a peep show, pawn shops, Police shakedowns and carjackings.

The Mega Edition expanded to include fifty-two spaces, skyscrapers erected after hotels, train depots, the $1,000 bill, and bus tickets.

The first European Monopoly Championship was held in Reykjavík, Iceland, the same site as the 1972 World Chess Championship

The Monopoly name has also been made into instant-win lottery tickets, clothing, a line of model cars, slot machines, bathroom accessories, and collectible game tokens

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Celebrating Black History Month with these 10 pioneers.

February is Black History Month so we’d like to applaud and celebrate some heroes of the Untied States civil rights movement.  Initiated by Carter G. Woodsen in 1921 as only a week, this reverence for African American contribution and culture was placed in February because it marked the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.  It was later expanded to a full month in 1970 after urging by Kent State students and in 1976, Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. Government as part of the Bicentennial celebration. It’s since has become universal in the United States, Canada, and Germany, and in the United Kingdom in October.

There are far too many contributors and pioneers to African American culture to detail, but here are a few we’d like to shine the spotlight on.

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall 
(September 8, 1954-present)

Ruby was the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South, William Frantz Elementary, in the spring of 1960.  It came as a result of the court-ordered integration of schools in New Orleans that qualified 6 children to attend all-white schools.  Two of the six kids decided to stay at their schools, three were transferred to the mixed Mcdonough School, and Ruby was the only one who went to an all-white school by herself.  She was accompanied by National Guardsman amid death threats and hostile crowds, and had to spend her whole first day in the principal’s office for safety.  Some white parents pulled their kids from school and Ruby had to bring her lunch from home every day in case her school lunch was poisoned.  The only teacher who agreed to work with Ruby was Barbara Henry, from Boston, Massachusetts, so for over a year the entire classroom consisted of her and Ruby.

W.E.B. Du Bois
(February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963)

Du Bois was a sociologist, author, historian, and civil rights activist.  He graduated from Harvard and became the first black man to earn a doctorate and became a university professor.  He went on to co-found the NAACP and dedicate his life to a storied career as a civil rights leader, educator, and storyteller.

Hiriam R. Revels
(September 27, 1827 - January 16, 1901)

Revels was minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church but took to politics and became the first African American to serve in the Senate in 1871, and first in Congress, when he was voted in by Mississippi during Civil War Reconstruction.

Hattie McDaniel 
(June 10, 1895-October 26, 1952)

The youngest of 13 children from Wichita, Kansas, the talented Hattie became an accomplished singer, comedian, radio personality, and actress.  She became the first African American to win an Academy Award, winning Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939).  She led the way for other African American Academy Award winners like Sydney Poitier (1963,) Louis Gossett Jr. (1982,) and later Holly Berry, the first to win Best Actress in 2001.

Jackie Robinson 
(January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972)

Classy and charismatic Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball debuting in 1947 with Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers.  He was a pioneer, the first black man to play any integrated professional sport, but the real victory was that he distinguished himself with honor, temperance, and civility amidst constant racist threats, violence, and criticism, and he was also a hell of a ball player!  Amazingly, Robinson’s feats came a year before the US Army was integrated, 7 years before Brown v. Board of Education, 8 years before Rosa Parks’ accomplishments and before Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggles, making him a true pioneer.

Vivien Thomas 
(August 29, 1910 – November 26, 1985)

Vivien Thomas, a groundbreaking surgical technician, development heart surgery techniques to cure blue baby syndrome in newborns.  He practiced medicine at Vanderbilt University Hospital and later Johns Hopkins University, despite a racist system that wouldn’t let him advance past a formal high school education.  Still, he worked as an apprentice and became so amazing at surgery that he became one of the top cardiologists in the country and a teacher to many top recognized surgeons. His story was told in a recent TV movie with Mos Def playing Thomas.

Booker T. Washington 
(April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915)

Booker T. Washington was an educator, author, orator, and political advisor to several US presidents.  Being of the last generation born into slavery, he represented their voice against Jim Crow law and became the first African-American person to receive an invite to the White House when Theodore Roosevelt extended the offer. Washington was also the first black man to have his likeness dedicated to a postage stamp.  Foremost, he was an advocate for equal rights and worked tirelessly for that cause through Washington’s political machine.

Thurgood Marshall
(July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993)

Born right after the turn of the century in a time when Jim Crow laws and racial segregation were the status quo, Marshall undertook to fight for civil rights through the law, becoming a distinguished attorney in the process.  He presented more than 30 civil rights cases before the Supreme Court Between 1938 and 196 and amazingly won 29 of them, including the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in public schools. By law, black and white students had to attend separate public schools. He went on to become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice in American history, serving from 1967 to 1991.

Rosa Parks
February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005)

Rosa Parks has been called “the first lady of civil rights by the US Congress, but her career started with humble beginnings as a secretary of the NAACP in Montgomery, Alabama.  On December 1, 1955, she boarded a bus to work but was ordered to give up her seat in the front for a while passenger and instead go sit in the back.  She refused and was arrested, sparking a civil rights protest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott for a whole year, until the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional.  For her role as a civil rights pioneer, Parks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
(January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Doctor King became the preeminent leader of the civil rights movement and the conscience of America as he vehemently fought racism and segregation but by deploying peaceful civil disobedience.  He motivated men and women to their highest purpose like no other charismatic leader, and gave grand orations that shook the podiums with applause.  He was involved in just about every major peace protest, march, boycott, and rally for civil rights in his time, and On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, a bullet taking his life but never quieting his message of humanity and peace.

The Little Rock 9, the Tuskegee Airmen, Jack Johnson, Buck Williams, Daisy Bates, Diane Nash, Arthur Ashe, Julian Bond, James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, Medgar Evans, Jesse Jackson, Jesse Owens, and so many more.

Of course there are far too many men and women of the civil rights movement that deserve recognition and our praise during Black History Month, whether they were well known or worked tirelessly behind the scenes for equality.  To find out more about all of these unsung heroes and pioneers, or more information about African American History, got to

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

20 Gadgets that will make your bathroom fun again!

What's the most fun room in the house?  You might tell me about the living room, garage, kitchen or even bedroom, but no one will rate the bathroom as the entertainment center of your home.  But that can change with the help of these 20 fun and innovative gadgets for your bathroom! 

Why not make good use of your mirror with built in touchscreen buttons to control a radio, clock, barometer, and MP3 player?  The Maitre mirror from Stocco in Italy allows you to plug your iPod or iPhone or MP3 player into the bottom and rock out as you get ready in the morning!  

This Green Water Shower Curtain helps you save on water usage by alerting your family when they've been using it too long - the hard way!  The longer they're under the shower, the harder the spikes inflate until they'll literally be poking you to get out!

May the force be with you - and those evil cavities banished forever - with this Star Wars light saber 
toothbrush.  The LED light glows for exactly 60 seconds so your kids know they've brushed long enough.  

Don't have much shelf space?  These magnetic bottle holders easily stick to a shower wall while letting you fill up with shampoo, soap, or anything else you want to squeeze into a bottle!

Going green around the house?  This takes it to a whole new level with a bath matt made out of natural grown mosses and grasses.  As long as I don't have to mow it, that could be cool!

Why not make your boring toilet dispenser a little fun?  If you grew up in the 1980's, you'll love this retro Polaroid camera TP holder.  Don't worry - it doesn't take pictures! 

If you're like me you love to bring your music into the shower and sing and dance along - without getting electrocuted.  So this tiny bluetooth enabled waterproof speaker easily sticks to the wall and plays music from your nearby (and dry) iPod or other Bluetooth music device.

Don't you hate it when you remember something important while you're showering, only to forget it by the time you get out and dry off?  Well now you can scribble notes, add to your To Do list, or write a message to your better half on this AquaNotes waterproof note pad that holds 40 perforated sheets.

The LED Heat-Sensitive Shower Light prevents you from every stepping into a freezing cold - or scalding hot - shower again.  When the cold water is on, blue light floods down, but when the water hits 89 degrees or higher it turns to red.  

This iCarta iPod Toilet Paper Holder is a water-resistant dock, charger, and music station, playing tunes through your TP dispenser for only $29.99 (iPod or toilet paper not included.)
Never again will you sit down on a freezing cold toilet seat in the middle of the night or on cold winter mornings.  This toilet seat heater plugs into a regular power source and keeps you toasty for very inexpensive - and only costs $39.99.

Speaking of toilet seats, have a seat and weigh yourself at the same time with this integrated digital scale!  Then again, sometimes you don't want to know while you go!

Did you know that approximately 1/3 of our life is spent sitting on the toilet?  Ok, I just made that up, but you might as well make good use of your time atop the throne by working on your golf game.  This putting green goes right on the bathroom floor and fits around the toilet and allows you to sink a few putts while you...well, you get the idea.

Manipulate 6 stainless steel shower streams into any position you want - including rotating - with this unique shower head by Vado.

If you love looking at fish, add to your collection with this sink aquarium by Moody.  It'd easy to set up and use and you can easily access it to feed the fish, change the filter, or clean the tank.  Just don't drop the toothpaste cap in there!

If you're looking to get creative in the bathroom, this tree TP holder might be perfect for you.  The PQtier by Presse Citron is a two-dimensional metal tree that mounts on the bathroom wall and holds up to 14 rolls at a time on pegs, making it look like a decorative tree with plenty of two-play foliage!  It does cost $180 so maybe you want to take the concept and try your own arts and craft project?

Out of Japan we see the coolest hair dryer you'll ever see, the Western blow dryer (around $52) is rated up to 1000 Watts and has high, medium, and low settings for you gunslingers who want to dry your hair at high noon (holster, horse, and posse not included.)

Instead of boring chalk boards and messy white boards, why not style up your communication a bit with Read My Lips markers, allowing you to scribble messages on any glass or white board surface in bright colors but erase with ease.  

We haven't forgotten about your bar of soap, which hasn't seen an innovation in 100 years.  But now you can use this fun donut soap to clean up.  Just don't bite it because it looks better 

Speaking of hygiene products disguised as foods that are yummy (I never thought I'd utter that sentence!) try out bacon-flavored floss.  It may not be as good as the real thing but it's better than mint flavor floss!