Saturday, August 04, 2012

3588 Jasper still thinks it's Sunday.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Consumotherapy - buying something because it makes you feel good.


Something I don't understand about the Olympics - I thought all the athletes and teams were supposed to be "amateurs".  Yeah, I know there's government support and sponsorships and so on.  There has to be because they have to practice so much and that takes time and money.  But isn't there a line somewhere?  The US basketball team is all professional players.  I mean multimillionaire players from professional NBA teams.  How can they be considered in any way amateurs?  How are they in the Olympics?  Why don't they just have a World Series of basketball instead?  That's what it is....


I have two layers of long heavy fringe hanging in the arch between the living room and the kitchen.  It had been on spring tension rods, but eventually the rods started sagging, and when the Nugget goes through sometimes she gets a wee bit tangled and pulls one or both down.  Jasper occasionally attacks them, too.

So I bought some brackets and two lengths of PVC pipe.

The PVC started sagging, so I bought some wood dowel and fed that into the pipes to strengthen them.

They still sagged.  That fringe is heavy!

I decided to buy a small diameter metal pipe, like for plumbing, or gas lines.  That won't sag!

Wow!  Have you priced pipe lately?  It's like $13 or more per FOOT!  Holy cow!   Why?!

I ended up with big fat wooden doweling, like would be used for regular DIY curtain rods.  Not what I wanted, but it seems to be holding up ok so far.


The township collects garbage twice a week here, Mondays and Thursdays.  It's paid from taxes and there doesn't seem to be any limit on how much you can put out.  I put out one small kitchen bag half full.  They collect recycling twice a month, first and third Wednesdays.  I put out 2 tall kitchen trash cans full every recycle collection. 

My production is just the opposite of what they seem to expect.  I have four times as much recycling as garbage.  Two weeks of trash paper and cardboard will bury me alive.  I think that may be the norm around here, since I see people putting recycle stuff out on garbage days.  When whatever container they're using is full, it goes out.  Most people don't have enough room to store that much recyclable stuff.

I wonder if the township is aware of the relative amounts, and that people who would like to recycle are forced to put recyclables out on garbage day?  I wonder if they care?  The township recycle center is just up the road from me, between me and the grocery store, and they're open every day until 3 pm, so when the paper and cardboard gets overwhelming, I just drop a load off there.  People who have jobs can't do that.

(No, I am not going to volunteer to do neighborhood recycle center runs.)


I once knew a country bar in the Gettysburg, Pa. area with a hunting theme, that labelled the restrooms "Setters" and "Pointers", along with a picture of the dog breed.  Do you know that there were people (like my friend Jeannie) who couldn't figure out which door was theirs?  Jeannie said she couldn't tell by looking at the picture whether it was a girl dog or a boy dog.

I liked her anyway.

3587 Buying and selling

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dean Koontz, The Face: The hero wants to arrest a motivational speaker
on charges of felony cliché and practicing philosophy without an idea.


Jasper gets canned food once a week, on Sunday.  Last weekend I somehow decided Saturday was Sunday, and gave it to him a day early.  Today he is pestering me, underfoot constantly and biting my ankles when I sit down.  I guess he knows it's Saturday because of the different noise patterns outside.


Last Monday evening I watched Antiques Roadshow.  After that, something came on named Market Warriors.  I didn't watch the first half, but I gather it went something like this:  four people were turned loose in one of those antiques dealers' halls, where there are many stalls with dealers selling stuff.  The four were given assignments to buy things fitting certain criteria, like advertising prior to 1970, "smalls", toys, and so on, and then the items they chose for each criteria would be put up for auction and the winner would be the one who made the most profit.

When I figured out that's what was going on, I about cracked up.  You don't buy things from an antique dealer, then sell it at auction!  NO! WAY! Dealers buy things at auction, and then mark them up by like 100%. 

There's only one way to have any hope of not losing money.

First you research the auction.  Who's attending?  Dealers?  Homeowners?  Collectors? Decorators?  And about how many of each?  You're not making money selling to dealers or collectors at auction, since they know exactly what an item will sell for in a shop (shoppe!) and won't pay more than that.  Homeowners are looking for yard sale prices, things that work, or particular decorator pieces.  Your best bet is a room full of decorators.  Big city professional decorators will buy almost anything at almost any price, since they usually have a decor or two in mind, so if they see something currently in fashion, they'll just wrap words around the item and can charge their customer whatever it cost.  They don't have to worry about it taking up room until they can sell it.  And even then, you'll need at least four or more bidding against each other.

If you find an auction that decorators attend, next you check out some decorating magazines.  What's hot?  Cast iron lawn furniture is always good, beat up chests and cabinets with multiple layers of chipped and worn paint, that sort of thing.   What's big this year? 

If you have to make do with an auction hall full of collectors, dealers, or ordinary civilians, you have little hope of turning a profit on anything you bought from a dealer.  Kitschy is your best bet - stuff with little real value, but it's cute and appealing.

AFTER you find out who will be at the auction, then you select things to sell.  You are still doomed to failure if you buy from a dealer who knows what they've got.  Instead, shop yard sales, and little "junk" shops off on the side roads.

Our four shoppers had no idea what the bidders were likely to be looking for.  I was shocked that there were so very few people attending the auction, although there were some phone-in bids, too.  It went about as I figured it would.  Only a few people bid on each item.  The "contestants" had in many cases bargained the shop owner down from his or her original asking price, which they took pride in, but at auction they got much less.

Duh.  No kidding.

The only thing that sold for more than the guy had paid for it was a wooden rocking horse that wasn't even the antique he'd thought it was, but it was pretty.  Pouf decor item.


I had an interesting experience this week.  I bought a necklace on Etsy.  The seller seemed to think it was a "vintage" "Bedouin" necklace with "coral, turquoise, and silver".  Well, I knew by looking at the photo that it was not old, or real Bedouin, or silver, and that although there were some coral and turquoise nuggets strung among the beads, most of it was glass - it's a tourist trap piece.  But it would look very nice with one of my caftans, and it was cheap, like $20, with free shipping.  The seller was in the Netherlands.  The necklace arrived packed in bubble wrap in a flattish metal box inside a padded envelope.

I could have thrown the box away.  Daughter certainly would have immediately, without a second thought.  But I got curious as to what it was.  I looked it up on the internet.  It's a Belgian cigar box from the 1950s without a dent, scratch, stain, or spot of rust on it.  Ones like it in much worse condition are listed on collectors' sites at $60-$100.

(Hmmmm.  Obviously the seller of the necklace knows nothing about what she has, good or bad.  Quick!  Buy something else from her!)

I have this guilty feeling, like that I should alert her.  Then again, I want to buy more from her to see what it might arrive in. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

3586 Strange brains

August 2, 2012

When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children,
endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority,
for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
-- Bertrand Russell --


The following is a 10-minute video about a guy with Tourette's, Luke, who just wants a girlfriend.  Unfortunately, he's one of the 10% who has the problem with uncontrollable swearing.


The brain is a mysterious thing.   The Tourette's part of Luke's brain knows exactly which words are forbidden and will get the worst reaction and that's what it generates.  So I can't help wondering - if Luke had been raised in a society of anorexic, diabetic, truck drivers, would he be shouting "Cheesecake!", and "Sugar!" instead of "F--k you!" and "Bitch!"?

It reminds me a bit of Jay, when his brain decided to throw away the left side of the world, to the point where he was blind to the first half of double words.

I knew a guy with Tourette's once.  He didn't have the swearing thing, though.  He just twitched a lot and yipped and barked.  He and his wife were in Mensa.  We all liked him.  He was sweet.  We all strongly disliked his wife.  They'd got married just before they moved to the Poughkeepsie area and became active in the local group.  She was more than a bit of a slut, wandering off all the time with guys, and she'd yell at him, "You're barking again!  Stop it!" like she had no understanding of the syndrome or didn't care about how difficult it was for him to control it.  She eventually wandered off, within the first year, I think.  After she left, since he couldn't drive because of the twitching, one of us would pick him up for the dinners and games nights.

One evening I gave him a ride home after a dinner, and he started talking.  I'd never heard anything like it.  Words poured out of him.  What he was saying made sense in and of itself, but it just poured out so fast and had nothing to do with anything and segued into different topics at warp speed.  In spates between the deluge, he said that when he starts talking uncontrollably it means a seizure is coming on and if it did while he was in the car I shouldn't panic but just let it go, wait it out, and he's sorry if it scares me.  I responded that my late husband had seizures, and they don't bother me a bit.  When we arrived outside his apartment, I offered to sit with him until whatever happened had passed, but he said no, he was used to it and would be ok.

I never saw him again.  I often wondered what happened to him.

Monday, July 30, 2012

3585 Reading

Monday, July 30, 2012

Most people can work with any insanity, as long as it is consistent and predictable insanity.
--  Silk  --


In the past few months I have read (not listed in order):
  1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Alborn
  2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Tales of the Jazz Age - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. What Your Childhood Memories Say About You ... and What You Can Do About It - Kevin Leman
  4. How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children:  Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children - Gerald Newmark
  5. Madame Bovary - Gustav Flaubert
  6. Monday Mornings: A Novel - Sanjay Gupta
  7. Sisters - Kathleen Thompson Norris
  8. Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know - ?
  9. A few other books I started and not only didn't finish, they were so bad I deleted them from the Kindle.
I am now reading God is an Englishman, R. Delderfield.

All were either free or $.99 to $1.99 for the Kindle.

I have accepted that as a warning for the future.  Sometimes a deal too good to pass up should be passed up.

An advantage of paper books is that you can leaf through and scan here and there to get some idea as to whether it's worth reading.  Can't really do that with an electronic book.  Well, you can, but it's a pain and you have to commit to acquiring it first.

#1 was good as a story of a man and his life.  I don't understand what all the fuss was about when it first came out, though.  I see no real lesson to be learned, as some people had described it.  I can't believe some people, after reading it, went about trying to identify the five they'd be likely to encounter.  I mean, if there was any lesson at all, it was exactly that you CAN'T anticipate that.

#2 leaves me wondering why Fitzgerald was so celebrated.  What a pile of dross.

#3 and #4 are typical of those books that could have said everything they had to say in 20 paragraphs, but proceed to take 200 pages to say it.  I didn't get more than halfway through either before I tired of the repetition.

#5 was not at all what I expected, but would have been a fairly good read *IF* I had not started out with much higher expectations.  Frankly, it looks to me like it was written as a romance novel for the women of the time specifically to teach a lesson - that women must avoid romantic fantasies and accept their lot in life, or suffer the consequences.  Hmmm.

#6 was more like an outline.  The author may have had some good tales to tell, but character development and situations were skimpy.  It seems like it was actually just an idea for a television series, which might have been a pretty good show, and this was a demo piece.

#7 was depressing.  I wanted to wade into the novel and slap them all upside the head.

#8 a waste.  Not the stories I knew...

Again, I had high hopes for God Is an Englishman.  It starts out rip-snorting, but about 1/4 of the way through it's starting to bog down.  I find myself frowning a lot.

Yeah, gentlewomen of the time were sheltered, and not all that well educated, but not so much that they didn't see animals "doing it", and weren't so stupid that they couldn't figure it out.  Being taught that sex is unladylike and to be "endured" is not the same as being totally ignorant of what is involved.

And after his trip through the countryside, Adam knows he wants to run his carting business in those spaces not served by the railroads, I think it was the unsullied northeastern part of the isles (don't remember, didn't pay attention, and with the Kindle it's not all that easy to leaf through and find that part - one more way that paper is better than bytes) where he would cart materials from the producers to the nearest railroad - so why on earth has he set his headquarters in London, environs already fully served by rails?  Waggons (yeah, two "g"s), horses, and drivers all stabled in London, when their territory would be many many miles away?  Seems like he should have his stables in the centers of the territories he wants to serve, in multiple locations. But, maybe I'm getting ahead of him.

This book is making me look up a lot of stuff on the internet, like mentions of Chat Moss.  It turns out Chat Moss is a huge peat bog that presented a challenge to the railroad, ingeniously solved by "floating" the rail bed across it.  I also had to look up the movers and shakers of the time, Cleveland bay horses, skewbald, the well at Cawnpore, the Crimean war, various bits of military attire and accoutrements and a bunch of other things.  Leaves me wondering how much I used to miss or gloss over when reading books before the internet.

I'll probably finish "God Is...", but I doubt that I'll want to read the following two parts of the trilogy.

I have high hopes for several other books on the Kindle, and recently I have purchased on paper the latest Stephen King, and a non-fiction book by journalist Michael J. Totten, and a novel by Leonard Pitts that I'm sure will be good, and a few others.

Sheesh.  I've got to stop buying books.