The Magnet 0005 — Tokyo Ice Cream Stand

Also, 947 annoying things, how to hold your breath for three minutes, and more


Tokyo ice cream stand

The Cozy Places subreddit features photos of places that convey comfort, calmness, and safety. Tokyo is filled with cozy places — tiny shops and cafes that invite you to retreat from the buzz of the city. This small ice cream stand in the Shimokitazawa neighborhood of Tokyo looks like something from Animal Crossing. The rounded architecture, warm light of the giant ice cream cone, and the paper lantern caught my attention in 2018 and I took a picture. (Since then, it has been replaced by a less cozy-looking bubble tea store.)


How to hold your breath for several minutes

Joel Cunningham, managing editor of Lifehacker, says, “I can now easily hold my breath for as long as three minutes with minimal effort,” after practicing a method he learned on a YouTube video.

It comes to us from Dutch “extreme athlete” Wim Hof, who holds world records for swimming underwater in frigid temperatures and running a half-marathon on ice… Hof’s breathing method is based on alternating cycles of deep, circular breaths with periods of breath-holding to induce a meditative state… Essentially, you’re looking to induce a sort of controlled hyperventilation that will boost the oxygenation of your blood.

Grill your tofu in a waffle iron

Claire Lower, senior food editor for Lifehacker, shared 15 Food Hacks, which include how to make 2-ingredient pickles, scrap-infused soy sauce, jar scrambled eggs, perfectly-popped popcorn, and my favorite: waffle-ironed tofu. She writes:

This is actually a two-hack effort, as it’s not just the waffling that makes waffled tofu so crispy. Before it even goes into the waffle iron, I let it soak in a hot salt water bath to give it some flavor and firm it up. Then I waffle it to crisp it up, and then I chop it up and toss it into a rice bowl with a ton of pickled vegetables. I love waffled tofu so much, I made an incidentally vegan rice bowl the other day and didn’t even notice. That alone should tell you how powerful it is.

Inspired by her recipe, I used a George Foreman Grill to grill tofu. I brushed olive oil on thick slices of extra firm tofu, sprinkled them with sea salt, and grilled for about 6 or 7 minutes. It was delicious.

In Norway, there’s a law that lets you camp on private property

The 26 Aug issue of Scott’s Cheap Flights is about Norway’s largest city, Oslo, which has a population of 700,000. Norway has a law that gives people the right to roam on private land.

A “this land is your land” mentality pervades Norway thanks to something called allemannsretten, which basically translates to the right to roam. A traditional directive from ancient times, the law was made part of Norway’s Outdoor Recreation Act in 1957 and means you can even camp on private property across the country, so long as you maintain at least 500 feet of distance from the nearest inhabited home or cabin.


How to cut a bell pepper

I used to randomly hack away at bell peppers, ending up with oddly shaped slices covered in seeds. But a few years ago, I learned the trick to cutting bell peppers. Once you learn this method, you’ll never go back.

  1. Cut a ½-inch slice from the stem side of the pepper.

  1. Cut a ½-inch slice from the bottom of the pepper.

  1. With a paring knife, cut the 4 “fins” connecting the seed pod to the pepper. Remove the stem from the top part of the pepper. Now you have 3 seedless pepper sections to slice up any way you like!


947 annoying things

In 2004, Scott Cohen wrote a book that listed almost a thousand of life’s minor annoyances called Don’t You Just Hate That? Apparently, people enjoy reading about things that bug them because the book sold 159,000 copies. Later this month, the second edition of Cohen’s book is coming out, and I got a sneak peek. Here are a few samples from the book, and I hate them all:

  • Waiting behind people who look like they’re in line but aren’t.

  • The dried globule that forms at the top of lotion dispensers.

  • The feeling you get when you clip your nail too far.

  • Having to make that face to people in the hallway at work that implies, “Hey.”

  • When you tear open a padded envelope, and asbestos-like gray stuff spews into the air.

  • Armrest warfare on an airplane.

  • Having something valid to interject into the conversation of two nearby strangers but knowing that society does not permit you to do so.

Fun fact: Cohen published his email address in the first edition with the hope of getting dates. The first woman who emailed him married him, and they now have two children.


Jim Anderegg noticed my illustration for the Borromean rings in issue 0004 was incorrect. He said, “the middle set of rings are stacked on top of each other backward.” I corrected the illustration. Thank you, Jim!

The Magnet is written and produced by Mark Frauenfelder and edited by Carla Sinclair.