Irish Proverb: You can keep away from the rogue, but you cannot keep yourself safe from the liar.
During the late 70s, there was no such thing as “rarity” when it came to Kenner action figures on the shelves. By 1978, Kenner was manufacturing 3 3/4″ action figures just as quickly as they could. If Walmart didn’t have the figure you were looking for, chances were Service Merchandise, TG&Y, or some other local retailer did.
Despite that, there were rarities, or at least figures that not everybody had. Most of these were figures that came bundled with playsets. The Blue Snaggletooth (included in the early Cantina playset) is the most well-known early rarity, but another one that few people think about is the Dianoga.
The Dianoga, sometimes referred to as the “garbage monster” or “tick monster,” apparently lived (or at least had access to) the garbage disposal system on board the Death Star. The monster appears in the original Star Wars film when our heroes (Han, Chewbacca, Luke and Leia) find themselves trapped inside one of the battle station’s many trash compactors. Taking a cue from Jaws, we only get a couple of brief looks at the monster’s tentacles before a single red eyeball stalk shoots up for only a moment from the murky water. The monster wraps his tentacles around Luke and pulls him under the water. Luke struggles, and just when we think he might be gone forever, the creature lets him go. The creature knows what our heroes are about to find out — that the walls are about to crush them.
The Dianoga “figure” was not sold separately. It was included with the Death Star playset, which retailed for $20 in 1978 (adjusted for inflation, that’s about $75). The Death Star had multiple platforms and floors that allowed kids to recreate different scenes from the movie. In the basement was the orange trash compactor. On one end was a big plastic corkscrew that allowed kids to “crush” action figures. It came with bits of foam (“garbage”) and a green Dianoga.
As far as figures go, the Dianoga isn’t very exciting. His rounded belly prevents him from sitting level on a flat surface, and his tentacles don’t seem to be nearly as long as they were in the film. Where his neck meets his belly he has an open mouth full of teeth. He also has fins that look like wings, something that must have been underwater during the film.
Other than stick him inside the trash compactor, there’s not a lot the Dianoga can do. He can’t stand up or fit inside any ships, so you can forget about him flying away in an X-Wing Fighter. Still, he was cool to own. If you had the Dianoga, you didn’t need to drag your entire Death Star playset (which was large) to school to prove ownership to the other kids. All you had to do was slide the Dianoga in your pocket and watch the other nerds drool.
Dianoga doesn’t get a lot of love. As far as I know there aren’t any fan-fiction novels dedicated to his garbage-eating and hero-drowning adventures. His closest claim to fame that I’m aware of is his cameo in the 1995 video game Dark Forces, in which Dianoga pops his head up as you wander through the sewers of the Death Star.
Truth be told, I have two Dianogas. The one above is my original one from when I was a kid, but I picked up a complete Death Star several years ago which I have out on display in the hallway.
Posted at 8:00 am by RobOHara in Main
When I was a kid, battles between celebrities didn’t take place on Twitter — they happened on the charts. And so it was, between the Gloved One and the Purple One. Michael Jackson’s Thriller, released in November of 1983, was literally everywhere, commandeering radio and television waves and boombox speakers across the country. It was the biggest album in the world. And then, six months later, Prince released Purple Rain in the summer of 1984.
Similar musicians are frequently compared and contrasted, and “suddenly” in the mid-80s we had two megastars. Both sang, both danced, and both tore up the charts with multiple singles from a single album. Seven of the nine tracks on “Thriller” were released as singles and reached the Billboard Top 10; Prince had five singles chart from “Purple Rain.” Both albums vie for the top spot on lists of best albums from the 1980s. Tempo magazine named “Purple Rain” the greatest album of the 1980s and Vanity Fair named it the best soundtrack of all time. On Slant Magazine’s list of best albums of the 1980s, “Purple Rain” ranked number two. “Thriller” was number one.
The difference to me though was their sexuality. Despite being photographed with Brooke Shields and eventually marrying Lisa Marie Presley, Michael Jackson was almost asexual. Nobody took his hip-thrusting seriously, and his idea of romance in 1983’s “PYT” (Pretty Young Thing) was to offer girls TLC (Tender Lovin’ Care). Prince, on the other hand, had sex oozing from every pore. In songs like “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” and “Darling Nikki,” Prince offered more than tender loving care. The thought of Michael Jackson dating a woman was akin to your little nephew picking a fight with you, whereas nobody thought letting their niece hang around backstage at a Prince concert was a good idea. While Prince was constantly being photographed with sensuous women like Vanity, Apollonia and Sheila E., Michael Jackson frequently appeared with Emmanuel Lewis, Macaulay Culkin, Corey Feldman, and Bubbles the Chimp.
Both artists continued to record and churn out hits, of course. Michael Jackson released “Bad” and “Dangerous” in the late 80s/early 90s and continued to record, while Prince released “Around the World in a Day” in 1985, “Parade” in 1986, “Sign ‘O’ the Times” in 1987, “Lovesexy” in 1988, “Batdance” in 1989, “Graffiti Bridge” in 1990, and “Diamonds and Pearls” in 1991. It was a different time.
Both men were weird, eccentric, and in later years, reclusive — most likely the result of being both extremely artistic and extremely shy. Michael Jackson withdrew to Neverland Ranch, a childhood circus that never ended, while Prince retreated to Paisley Park, a fortress reportedly filled with hidden rooms and concealed audio bugs.
The biggest difference between the two artists however may be their legacy for future generations. My kids saw “Captain EO” at Disneyland and love the DVD we own of Michael Jackson’s music videos, but they never got that from Prince. While my kids were playing Michael Jackson Dance Party on the Wii and singing along with songs I sang along with at their age, Prince and his team of lawyers were busy scrubbing every clip containing Prince’s likeness or music from YouTube and removing his music from streaming services. It’s his prerogative, but my children do not know what it sounds like when doves cry, or how to party like it’s 1999.
At 42 I don’t know that I would call myself a “Prince Fan” any more than I would refer to myself as a “Michael Jackson Fan,” but no one who grew up in the 80s can deny the impact they had on our radios and our lives. Whether it was learning to moonwalk like Michael Jackson or rock a club like Prince at the end of “Purple Rain,” those were the images that inspired us and defined, at least then, what cool was.
Posted at 8:00 am by RobOHara in Main
“We’re meeting for dinner after class tomorrow at Tarahumara’s. Do you know where that is?”
The look on my face informed them I did not.
“It’s down by Benvenuti’s,” one of them offered.
Again, they are met by my glassy-eyed stare. “Is that over by the Mazzio’s with the Spy Hunter machine?”
They return a confused look. “What’s a spy hunter?”
They act as if I’ve never been to Norman, Oklahoma, but the truth is I’ve been there many, many times. One of my best friends, Justin, grew up in Norman. The two of us met in the mid-80s, and even though Norman was 40 miles south of where I grew up in Yukon, I hung out in Norman with Justin quite a bit. Both my and Justin’s parents spent a lot of time and gasoline shuffling us back and forth, up and down I-35. More times than I can count, my parents would drop me off in Norman on a Friday and Justin’s parents would bring me home Sunday afternoon.
Justin owned a Honda scooter, which the two of us used to cover every inch of Norman. With Justin at the handlebars and me hanging on behind, the two of us frequently zoomed across town to shop at Shadowplay Records and stick our heads inside the skate shop on Campus Corner.
None of the kids in my class have heard of Shadowplay Records.
“Seriously? It where Tyson Meade formed the Chainsaw Kittens.”
Again, no response.
I skip over my tales of trading Commodore 64 software on 5 1/4 floppy disks (their heads would explode) and playing arcade games at the Gold Mine inside Sooner Fashion Mall and jump ahead a few years. I tell my story about the time my friends and I drove to Norman to see the Big Skin Hearts open for Ancient Chinese Penis play at a house party and, like a movie, literally watched people destroy the house. I talk about driving to Liberty D’s to see Klipspringer. In the early 2000s I drove to Norman to see Wesley Willis perform.
I might as well be speaking Martian to a bunch of Venetians.
So yeah, technically, I do know Norman, Oklahoma. It’s just that I know my Norman, not theirs.
And unfortunately for me, my Norman is gone.
Owen Field, late 1980s
It was easy to get excited about the Star Wars prequels when they were released because by then I had already spent at least half of my life excited about Star Wars. I was born in 1973. 1977-1985 were the prime collecting years when it came to the original trilogy. True, there were some lean times in the late 80s and early 90s, but by the time Power of the Force action figures appeared in stores in 1995, it was like the excitement had never left.
Something psychological was going on at that time. I had spent so many years playing with, buying, and searching for Star Wars toys that when the brand reappeared in stores (with a vengeance) in the mid-1990s, I bought it all. Not just the stuff I wanted, but everything I could find and afford, because on some weird primal level, that’s what it felt like we were supposed to do. I (and a lot of other people) bought the action figures, and then we bought the playsets and spaceships, and the video games, and the masks and the costumes, and the Pez dispensers… literally anything they put the Star Wars logo on, I bought it.
These Pop-Tarts are one of a few different boxes of food I purchased in the late-90s/early-00s. (I never thought about it before, but the concept of “lava berry explosion” flavored food sponsored by Darth Vader is kind of like Lizzie Borden’s parents endorsing a particular brand of ax, but I digress.) As much as I enjoy Pop-Tarts, I never thought to collect them before. All you had to do was slap the words “limited edition” on the box, and I was all in.
Here’s another box of food, obviously from Episode I — Galactic Berry candy. I don’t know what the shelf life of any of these items are, nor would I be interested in finding out at this point. I once ate some gum from inside a 30-year-old pack of Ghostbusters II collector cards and wished I hadn’t for a couple of days.
I have no excuse for purchasing these things, nor do I have an excuse for not getting rid of them. They just sit on a shelf, taking up space.
Way up on the top shelf is this box of Star Wars Episode II cereal. Again, why someone buys a box of cereal and then refuses to open and/or eat the contents is beyond me, and I’m the guy that did it. As long as it said “Collector’s Edition” like this box does, I bought it.
When the latest Star Wars film hit theaters, I walked into Target and saw two large shelves filled with Star Wars-themed food. From soup to cereal to candy and chips, if you could put a label on it, someone (Disney) had stuck the Star Wars logo on it. I’m over the phase now. I might eat a box of Star Wars cereal or drink a bottle of water with Yoda on the label, but my days of buying perishable items with the Star Wars logo on the packaging are over.
Posted at 6:00 pm by RobOHara in Main
I was recently discussing old technology with a classmate when the subject of radio scanners came up. I purchased my first scanner from Best Buy in the mid-90s, and my second one, from Canada, in the early 00s. My classmate asked me if it was worth purchasing one today, so I decided to dust mine off before giving him an answer. The results were pretty depressing.
Radio scanners, like the ones I own, allow people to listen to radio transmissions. All sorts of things are being transmitted all the time. Unfortunately, advances in technology have all but made my old scanners all but obsolete.
For roughly a decade, I couldn’t turn on my scanner without picking up someone’s cordless phone conversation. Older cordless phones in the 45-50MHz and 900MHz range used to be everywhere — today, they’re all but gone. Modern cordless phones that operate in the 2.4 and 5.8GHz range are outside the range of most scanners. Additionally, many modern cordless phones are digital and use Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS), which makes hearing them with a low-end scanner like mine impossible.
Listening to cell phone conversations has never been simple, and today it’s mostly impossible. The only thing I was ever able to pick up were old analog cell phone conversations. Today, everything is digital. Strike two.
Three slightly less creepy broadcasts most handheld scanners can pick up are police, emergency, and airport transmissions. It took me a while to find them, but I was able to pick up a few broadcasts of these types with my scanner. But, there’s a much simpler way to do this today. 5-0 Radio Police Scanner for iOS allows you to listen to police and emergency broadcasts from all over the country, while LiveATC allows you to listen to Air Traffic communications from airports all over the world. There are ad-sponsored free versions available, or you can purchase the full, ad-free versions for a few bucks each. Much simpler and more practical than using a handheld scanner.
The only other thing I used to listen to with my scanner was drive-thru speakers at fast food restaurants. (I get bored in long lines.) Like cordless phones, I believe most restaurants have upgraded their systems to 2.4 and 5.8GHz wireless headsets, making them impossible to listen to. No longer can I listen to the people in front of me order Big Macs.
There are newer digital scanners that I believe may be able to pick up some of these transmissions and broadcasts, but spending hundreds of dollars on a new scanner versus a couple of bucks on an iOS application seems tough to justify. If you want to listen to police or emergency vehicle chatter or airport tower communications, just download the app.
Posted at 6:00 pm by RobOHara in Main
I saw the band Smash Mouth was trending early this morning. I’m not sure why that was. I only have one Smash Mouth story, and here it is.
In the fall 2001, when Susan was six months pregnant with Mason, I decided what I really needed to own was a Geo Tracker. My goal was to install a hard top, lower it, and add a crazy stereo system. I eventually did all of those things. It wasn’t the best timing, but it was fun.
When I drove the Tracker home I discovered a rattle coming from the glove box. I opened and closed the glove box multiple times, but couldn’t figure out where the rattle was coming from. After a few days of putting up with the rattle, I decided to figure out where it was coming from.
The glove box inside a Geo Tracker is designed like a US Postal Mailbox. When open, the rear of the glove box completely covers the rear opening that leads back into the dash area, but when closed, there’s a huge gap. In a big blue mailbox, this is intentional. When open it prevents people from sticking their hands down inside the box and grabbing other people’s mail. When closed, the rear opens up and your mail falls down into the mailbox. I don’t know why Geo decided to design a glove box in the same fashion, but they did. If the glove box was more than half full, when you closed it, everything over the halfway line fell out the back and down into the dash.
I can’t remember if I went in through the top or through the bottom, but eventually I was able to dig out everything that the previous owner had lost behind the dash: one mitten, a bottle of fingernail polish, and Smash Mouth’s debut CD, Fush Yu Mang. Apparently the previous owner thought so little of Smash Mouth that he or she never went looking for it.
It should be noted that the Tracker did not have a CD player when I purchased it — only a cassette deck. Because of that, after digging out the CD, I placed it in the glove box … and it eventually ended up back behind the dash again. I left it there, and when I sold the Tracker several years later, the CD was still there. I didn’t think enough about Smash Mouth to go looking for it again, either.
Posted at 9:00 pm by RobOHara in Main
While driving down the turnpike the other day, I heard a sound — 20 simultaneous “whaps.” It sounded like someone had thrown a cup full of ice at my windshield while I was driving 70 miles per hour, except there was nobody around — no bridges overhead, no people on the side of the road, and no cars directly in front of me.
It didn’t take long to notice the two dozen tiny piles of bug guts displayed in front of me. I wasn’t sure what I had hit, but I had hit a bunch of them, and whatever they were, they were big enough to make a distinct “whap” sound when they hit the glass. (And yes, I know what the last thing to go through their mind was.) My windshield was clean right before this took place — everything you see is from that single event.
It was Morgan this morning who solved the mystery — bees. She found the first one stuck in the door jamb, right behind my antenna. I found a second one today, sticking out from the gap below my hood. That appears to be the remains of two dozen more of them on my windshield.
If there’s a little less honey on store shelves in the near future, now you know why.
Posted at 8:00 am by RobOHara in Hacking, Main
Shortly before entering the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California and opening fire, killing 14 people and injuring another 20, the shooters — Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik — discarded their cell phones laptop’s hard drive. While the hard drive has not been located, the cell phones turned up in a dumpster near the terrorists’ rented home.
Four hours after the attack, Farook and Malik were killed in a gun battle with FBI agents. Unfortunately, they were shot before anybody got a chance to ask Farook what the four-digit lock code on his iPhone was. Oops.
An iPhone, when configured to do so, will back itself up to Apple’s iCloud when connected to an approved WiFi hotspot. Farook’s iPhone was configured to do this, but hadn’t been backed up in six weeks. To access the data on the phone, all the FBI needed to do was take the phone to a pre-approved WiFI network (say, Farook’s house or work) and turn the phone on. The phone would have backed itself up to iCloud, and the FBI would have been able to file a subpoena to obtain the (unencrypted) data from Apple.
But that’s not what they did. Instead, an FBI agent attempted to reset the phone’s security PIN via iCloud. This requires the phone to be unlocked to sync up. In other words, a random FBI agent who knew nothing about how iCloud works (he could have asked any 13 year old) locked the FBI out of the phone with this one single (dumb) action.
The FBI’s backup plan was to have Apple unlock the terrorist’s phone. First, they politely asked if Apple would break into the phone for them. Apple politely declined. Then, the FBI took Apple to court. When Apple still refused to cooperate, the Department of Justice also took the company to court, citing the All Writs Act (part of the Judiciary Act of 1789). Apple continued to drag their feet on the request.
And, for clarification, what the FBI was asking Apple to do was create a custom version of iOS with a backdoor in it that would allow them to bypass the security code. Because, nothing bad could possibly come from developing that. The government promised that it would only be used one time in a controlled environment, because of course they would promise that.
This story has freedom of speech, citizens’ rights, the right to encryption (and privacy from the government), the FBI vs. Apple, terrorists, murder… all they had to do was throw in a Star Wars reference and a video game and it would have been perfect!
From day one, I told my wife “the FBI does not need Apple to get into that phone. They will get in, regardless. This is a PR stunt.” My wife thinks I’m crazy (and not just because of this theory.) Any time the FBI makes a public release, it’s for a reason. The stuff they don’t want you to know about, you don’t know about. The stuff they do want you to know about makes the news.
Think of it this way: if Apple were to cave, it’s a lose/lose. Apple loses because it makes them look like they are catering to the government at the expense of their customers’ privacy. And the FBI loses twice: first, they look weak by not being able to break into a single phone, and second, they look like bullies. But if Apple were to stand up to the FBI and refuse to unlock the phone and the FBI were eventually able to unlock it on their own, that would be a win/win! Apple becomes the valiant defender of encryption and customer rights, while the FBI ends up looking like uber-hackers!
And, of course, that’s exactly what happened. On Monday, the FBI withdrew their case against Apple and said “thanks, bro, but we got in anyway.”
Above is a video of the XPIN CLIP in action attacking an iPhone running iOS 7x. What the device on the left is doing is sequentially sending passcodes to the phone. If you want to jump to the 3:30 mark you’ll see it send 1230, 1231, 1232, and 1233 before unlocking the phone with the correct code, 1234. Apple fixed this hole in iOS 8. A few weeks later, someone released a new device that worked against iPhones running iOS 8. Apple fixed that hole in iOS 9. It wouldn’t take a complete leap of faith to say that there’s a new device out there that works on the latest iPhone operating system.
But the terrorist’s phone had the security feature enabled that would wipe his phone after 10 incorrect guesses. Welp…
This is the IP Box unlocking an iPhone running iOS 8. The IP Box utilized an exploit that prevented the iPhone from recognizing incorrect guesses by pressing two buttons at the same time. Rumor has it that the newer versions of this box (available for around $200) can cut the power to the phone immediately after each attempt to prevent the phone from logging the incorrect guesses. It takes longer, extending the maximum amount of time from hours to days (but not weeks), but if you’re just dealing with one phone, that’s not too bad.
For now, this story is over (although you can bet Apple already has people trying to figure out how the FBI got into iOS 9, and will be patching that hole in the inevitably soon-to-be released update). Apple politely asked the FBI how they did it; the FBI politely refused to offer up that information. In the end, Apple won by not backing down, and the FBI won by gaining access to the terrorists’ selfies. The terrorists lost, but they were already dead so having their phone compromised is really just a parting gift.
The rest of us are stuck in the middle, hoping that the private information on our phones, computers, and stored in the cloud remains private.
From the day Star Wars debuted in 1977 through the mid-1980s, it seemed like the Star Wars floodgates would never stop. It all started with only a few action figures, but by the time Return of the Jedi hit theaters in 1983, action figures and playsets were just one of hundreds of things Star Wars fans could purchase. By the age of ten I had Star Wars pillows, sheets, and curtains for my room, Star Wars pencils, markers, and folders for school, and all sorts of other galactic items. Where the theatrical movies stopped, the Saturday morning cartoon shows and made for television specials began. It seemed like it would never end!
And then it ended.
Other than the occasional computer or video game, not a lot of Star Wars items were released in the second half of the 80s, and save for a few bits and pieces here and there, things didn’t pick back up until the Power of the Force figure line relaunched in 1995. What were fans to do?
Well, in some cases, we bought Bend-Ems.
Photo courtesy of StarWars.com
Bend-Ems were a line of bendable, rubber Star Wars figures. They looked dumb when they were released, and their looks haven’t improved over time. Collectors bought them for the same reason (and with the enthusiasm) that people lost or stranded in the wilderness occasionally resort to drinking their own urine. Saying that you liked the Bend-Ems line of figures is akin to saying Jar Jar Binks is your favorite Star Wars character. It’s like saying you prefer the lines on an ’87 Yugo to a ’57 Chevy, or that your favorite movie of all time is the intermission cartoon they used to show at drive-in theaters.
I didn’t buy all (there were only around 20) of the available figures in the Bend-Ems line, but I bought a few of them, and Darth Vader was one of those. A far cry from the menacing Dark Lord of the Sith we had grown to know and love, the Bend-Ems version of Darth Vader seems proud of his opposable thumbs and hint of a goofy grin.
I started working for the FAA in 1995, and on one of my first work trips, I had a terrible flight — one so bad that it kept me from getting back on an airplane for almost a decade. When I started flying again, I wanted to take something with me. Something I could put in my pocket and focus on. A good luck charm, if you will. That item became this Bend-Em Darth Vader.
This Darth Vader figure, as silly as he looks, as been on every single flight I’ve taken (and most road trips, too) since 1995. On flights, if my clothing allows, he usually rides in my front pocket. The rest of the time he stays tucked away in my laptop bag. I may not be able to see him at all times, but he’s there. Last year after visiting Hawaii I was able to claim that I had been in all 50 states, and I dare say Vader has been to all of them, too.
Darth Bendy doesn’t stand alongside my other figures on their display shelf. Instead he stands alone, right next to the door of my computer room. There are always things in that room that get packed up when I head out for a trip, and when I walk out that room on my way downstairs, the last thing I grab is him. I haven’t been in a plane crash yet since I started carrying him with me so it looks like he’s working.
Posted at 12:00 pm by RobOHara in Main
Erno Rubik invented his “magic cube” in 1974. It appeared on toy shelves in his native country as the “Hungarian Magic Cube” in 1977, and arrived in America three years later in 1980. Rubik’s Cubes flew off shelves in record numbers. It was named 1980’s “Toy of the Year,” and puzzle cubes (both Rubik’s brand and knock-offs) continue to sell today. To date, more than 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold, making it both the best selling puzzle and best selling toy of all time.
Most of us associate Rubik’s Cubes with the 1980s. Check out the cover of the next nostalgic book about the 80s you see and I’ll bet you see one of those cubes on the front cover. When I was in elementary school, Rubik’s Cubes were everywhere. People brought them to school and played with them during recess and on the school bus. I even remember finding one down in the bottom of my Christmas stocking one year. Later we had the Rubik’s Snake, those pyramid puzzles, and that weird Rubik’s Link the Rings thing (Sears has one for $131.98, if you’re interested), but it was the cube that stood the test of time. All of my friends tried solving them. A few of my friends learned the patterns and algorithms from books, while the rest of us perfect the art of disassembling and reassembling them (or worse, swapping the stickers around).
According to Wikipedia, the first world championship (organized by the Guinness Book of World Records) took place in Munich on March 13, 1981. The winner of the competition was Jury Froeschi, who was able to solve the cube in 38 seconds.
While 38 seconds seems pretty fast for someone like me (who hasn’t solved a cube in 30+ years and counting), my son Mason tells me it’s a pretty slow time. Mason can consistently solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than 30 seconds. His best time, I think, is around 22 seconds. The current world’s record is 4.9 seconds. The top 10 solving times range from 4.9 seconds to 5.81 seconds, each of which occurred since 2013.
Yes, the cube has returned. Mason and several of his classmates have memorized solutions to the cube (now posted freely on YouTube) and spend their free time “cubing,” and more specifically, “speedcubing.” At officially sanctioned Rubik’s Cube events (yes, really), competitors of all ages compete to score the best average time in one of several events. For those who don’t feel particularly challenged by the cube, there are categories for solving the cube with one’s feet, solving it with one hand, and solving it while blindfolded.
This past Saturday, Mason and his friend Brenden talked Susan into taking them to Dallas for an officially sanctioned (yes, really) World Cube Association event. I’m not sure if there were age groups or how the competition worked, but at the end of the day both Mason and Brenden had averages in the low 20s, which placed them in the middle of the field of 120-ish competitors. The winner of the 3x3x3 cube solving competition walked away with a winning time of 7.84 and an average of 9.01, so the boys have their work cut out for them.
Until then, Mason has other irons in the fire. He recently launched MasonCubes.com, a website where he reviews different brands of Rubik’s Cubes and shows how they work. (There are apparently many different models of varying quality.) He’s also set up an Amazon Affiliate account and has earned $6 to date on people buying cubes through his website. It beats flipping burgers.
While I don’t know that speedcubing is a skill that will be valuable to him later in life, I hope the website, social media accounts, and advertising (he wore an official MasonCubes.com t-shirt to the event) is.