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How IKEA inspired me to feel wealthy

On Mike Dariano

I don't know what the correct definition of 'fan boy' is but I'm certain I come as close to it as possible. If fan boy is a frozen block of ice then I'm that drop of water less than a degree away. My fandom isn't toward Apple though, it's toward IKEA.

There's no catalog - no anticipation of looking at strictly advertisement for some product - that I enjoy as much as the annual IKEA catalog. It's always full of bright, cool, modern, hip stuff that would in no way match the rest of what I have but if I were to start from scratch I would start from IKEA. I would also be single. My wife doesn't like IKEA in the absolute terms but in the relative ones. IKEA makes me clean.

It was a few years into my love affair that I began to wonder what about the catalogs I enjoyed most. I like the furniture, the wall art, the kitchen stuff. But why? What about these things brought out so much more enjoyment? It was the cleanliness.

In an IKEA catalog things are picked up. Things are put in their places. Counters, mirrors, and windows are all wiped clean and the picture frames wouldn't dare to foster a speck of dust. Part of what I liked was that things were tidy. If I couldn't have the macro look, I would have the micro one.

And it works. While cleaning the house is not a pleasant chore and one that I don't do willingly it is one with a nice reward. When I look around a room after it's been cleaned, I enjoy the way it looks. My stuff looks newer, shinier, more dazzling. It looks like nice stuff. I think somewhere in my brain there are tiny chemicals that switch routes when I do this and they're probably the same ones that I get from making a purchase of something from IKEA or eating a chocolate ice-cream cone. In some ways I'm tricking myself to thinking I have new stuff by making my stuff look new.

good puzzles and bad puzzles

On Taylor

One second you are looking over your friend’s shoulder at their crossword or Sudoku, then, before you know it, you are maniacally racking your brain for “Twilight, to a poet” that has 6 letters. Puzzles are highly addictive; they are like meth for our inner problem-solver.

Many people enjoy a good puzzle every now and then. Some people make them a part of a daily routine. Personally, puzzles are highly addictive. Sitting down with a game of Sudoku or Bejeweled is absolute bliss. When I stop playing, however, I notice that the benefits are of a temporary nature; they disappear as soon as the game does. I also notice that other activities, activities that are not explicitly puzzles, queue the same feelings of bliss. Such activities for me are solving electrical faults, figuring out how to fabricate anything, and analyzing data.

There are 2 types of puzzles: enjoyment puzzles and practical puzzles.

Enjoyment puzzles are what we commonly think of as puzzles and games. These can be classic examples such as jigsaws, crosswords, and solitaire. However they extend to the huge realm of video games. With the apparent trend of app-mania, novel puzzles and video games are only a touch away. Defeating a video game, beating their system, is a delicious feeling. I know. I spent a majority of the summer between 6th and 7th grade playing an online multiplayer game, Runescape. This was the beginning of the MMORPG universe, before WoW. The games of today are vastly superior. Still, Runescape was incredibly addictive to me. I craved it. My friend and I spent many days biking 4.5 miles to the library to consume all available bandwidth. I often played despite being hungry or having to urinate. The addictiveness of future video games will only multiply.

Practical puzzles are actually what we call “problem solving.” That is, solving a problem you have in order to accomplish something. For me, these could be diagnosing electrical faults, figuring out how to fabricate a new tool, envisioning the order of cuts on a lathe, or analyzing data to reach conclusions. Practical puzzles can be equally as enjoyable as enjoyment puzzles, because they involve the same process..

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