Saturday, September 12, 2015

5008 Best Offer

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Education... has produced a vast population able to read
but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
-- G. M. Trevelyan --


eBay just got a lot more dangerous for me.  

Let's take muumuus for example.  In the awful heat and humidity we'd been having, I found the muumuus I had bought in Hawaii in the late '90s and early 2000s were wonderful.  So I went to the internet to see if I could find two or three more.

I prefer the lighter cotton or rayon blends, in a straight style that falls from the bust to the ankles and skims the hips, with no gathers above the knee.  Hilo Hattie's and the other stores in Hawaii didn't have what I like at a reasonable price.  The name brand dresses run at least $70, and almost all had gathers above the bust, and the current fashion seems to be that heavy bark-cloth-like cotton.  So I went to eBay, where I found lots of "vintage" dresses that were exactly what I wanted.  I bought a few, none of them over $25, most well under, and I'm happy with them.  There were others I liked even better, nicer colors, nicer prints, but they were over $30 (plus shipping) and I didn't want to go that high.

And then, I accidentally discovered "Or Best Offer".

I hate bargaining.  One is expected to bargain in Morocco, nothing has a reasonable set price, and I hated every second of it.  I feel like I'm  insulting the shopkeeper when I tell him how little I think his item is worth.  I suspect I paid way too much for everything, and the weird thing is that the business people sneer at you if you pay too much.  It's awful.  So when I've seen "Or Best Offer" on eBay items, I ignored it, and if I wanted the item, I just paid the posted price.

This afternoon I found these two dresses, exactly what I wanted, but both way out of my price range.  (Photos are blurry because the only photos you can copy off eBay are the tiny thumbnails.  They don't enlarge well, but you get the idea.)  The brown is a classic Hawaiian floral fabric.  The pink is hibiscus flowers.

Well, I figure that there's a difference between bargaining with a Moroccan shopkeeper to his face, and with a faceless eBay seller who is free to reject the offer.  At least I won't see the sneer.  The brown dress was nearing the end of its listing time on eBay, so I decided to try that "Best Offer" button.  I made a ridiculously low offer given what she had listed the dress at, and well below my limit.  I was just trying it out, you know?  I didn't expect the offer to be accepted. It was ridiculous.

It was immediately accepted!  My chin almost hit the desk!

I then went to the pink dress which I liked even more but had been listed at an even higher price and had another three weeks to go on its listing, made my pitiful low-ball offer, and again it was immediately accepted.   (Given that if you email a seller, it usually takes a few hours for them to get back to you, I suspect that when the seller set up the "Best Offer" option, they also set the absolute lowest offer they'll accept, and that's why I got immediate acceptance.  Gee.  Now I'm wondering if I could have gone lower.)

Wow.  I may be be in trouble now.  Hunting down bargains.  Temptations.  Oh, my.  I'm already known on eBay as a sniper.  I may become known as a low-baller.


Meaning on eBay:
  • Bid - how high are you willing to go?  (I snipe in the last 5 seconds so I can't be bid up.)
  • Buy It Now (BIN) - Pay the price listed or move on.
  • Buy It Now with the 'Or Best Offer' option - How low will the seller go?

5007 Limited access

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."
-- Evelyn Waugh --


Rhinebeck, NY, has smallish spreading trees lining the major streets (the main street is route 9, the same route 9 that runs through NJ, and people insist it's Broadway in NYC.  I dunno about that.).  All the branches and twigs of all the little trees are wound about with strings of tiny white lights, that are turned on for the Christmas season.  Driving down the main street is a fairy tale experience.  It really is beautiful.


Many of the residents and shopkeepers don't fully appreciate it, because the village council has declared that tiny white lights and white lights only are to be used for decoration on trees, shrubs, storefronts, and home windows throughout the village.  No multi-colored lights.

A high-class village like Rhinebeck cannot be allowed to look garish.

Well, anyway, the council has announced this year's "community-wide party", an annual tradition to raise money for the lights.  It will be held at the fairgrounds in October.  A "cocktail party" in one of the fair pavilions.  Sponsored by a bank, and the fairgrounds, and the village council.  Local restaurants will provide food and drink tastings.  

How much would you pay to attend?

Single tickets $100, couple $175.


Toldja it was a high-class community.  No riff-raff allowed.  This is the same place that made no effort to save the only grocery store in the village accessible to the elderly and others without cars.

But it sure is pretty to drive through in December.  Just ... keep going through.

5006 Meringue chewing gum

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good."
-- Seneca --


Daughter found a container of meringue cookies in a local store, and shared them with me, and I shared them with Nugget.  We all love them.  They are light and dry and crunchy and melt in your mouth.  I pointed out that they are easy to make, so Nugget and I made them yesterday.

Not so easy when it's humid, I guess.

The recipe we found online said to bake them for 45 minutes at 250 degrees, then to let them sit in the oven for another hour, without opening the oven door.  They should be dry throughout by then.

Well, an hour and 45 minutes later, they were firm and dry on the outsides, but like chewing gum inside.  I heated the oven up again, turned it off, and gave them another 2 hours.  Still chewy inside. I gave up, turned the oven off, and went to bed, leaving them in the warm oven.  Seems like an old recipe I remember using a long time ago said to leave them overnight.

This morning they were no longer dry on the outside!  Soft and sticky lumps of gum!

Heated the oven up again to 180, and gave them two hours this morning at 180.  They are now almost right, so I stuck them in airtight containers.

I think it's the humidity, and my stupid oven.  It's the one installed by the builder, the cheapest GE gas oven.  When you use the oven, heat pours out of the vents located under the backsplash at the rear of the stovetop, baking and melting anything you were foolish enough to leave on top of the stove, and heating the kitchen in the summer.  I don't know if all gas ovens work this way, or just cheap ones.  Anyway, I suspect when you turn the active heat off, cool moist room air enters easily and quickly, defeating the drying part of the recipe.

I hate that stove, but it's not worth replacing it because I don't really use the oven part, except for the occasional cookies with Nugget, or chicken thighs.  For myself, my meager meals come out of the microwave or off the stovetop.  I've never even used the broiler (which news horrified Daughter).

I loved the stove at the country house.  It's a top-of-the-line fancy pro brand I can't remember right now, electric, self-cleaning, with burners you can swap out for a griddle, and a grill, and some other stuff I didn't even know how to use (but Jay did) for fish and other special uses.  That stove is now at least 30 years old, one burner no longer works, and some of the small knobs for things like clock and timer setting etc. disappeared (stolen by cats, I think), but I still like it.  The only thing I didn't like is that it's stainless steel, and I hate stainless steel.  It stains, discolors, scratches, and is impossible to keep clean.  The "stainless" part is pure advertising hype.  Give me porcelain every time.

Friday, September 11, 2015

5005 The ultimate bureaucracy

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
-- Eric Hoffer --


My driver's license expires the end of this month.  They sent me the renewal form early last month.  All I had to do was sign it, and mail it back in with a check, and they'd reuse the old photo and send me the new permit.

Well, of course I procrastinated, and found it while writing checks for this month's bills.  I was afraid that if I mailed it now, I might not get the new one before the old expired.

So I decided to just sign the form, write the check, and hand-deliver it to the local DMV office.  They could just do their thing and mail it to me.

Not so simple.

I had the Nugget that day, so we went off to run some errands and have a Gramma-Nugget lunch.  First stop was the DMV.

I have to congratulate the kid.  She was very good while we waited in THREE different lines at the DMV.  They wanted six points of identification (my old driver's license wasn't sufficient), and they insisted on a new photo.  The Nugget danced and sang to entertain people in line.

Now, the process made no sense at all.  If I had mailed the form, there would have been no verification of my id at all.  But if I'm standing there with my state-issued photo id -- look, it's ME! -- I have to further prove who I am?

I don't understand.

Yeah, ok, the difference is that with the mail-in form, they send the license to the "address of record", as opposed to handing it to a person who claims to be me.  But really, there isn't that much difference, and besides, they could have mailed it anyway, right?

They made me take the new photo without my glasses on, and it's absolutely awful.  I wasn't planning on a photo, so I wore no makeup, and my hair was pulled straight back from my face.  Then without the glasses, my eyes looked red and swollen and I looked like I'd had a very bad night.

All license photos look bad because of the flat lighting, but I've never seen one this bad.  Even the Nugget, who isn't old enough at 4 to dissemble, looked at the photo and asked who that was.  


The definition of a bureaucrat is one who follows a set of procedures to the letter.  No deviations allowed, no thinking allowed.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

5004 Stoooopid pumpkin

Sunday, September 6, 2015

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer --


The pumpkin plant is now in high gear.  It's putting out eight or so blossoms every morning now, and so far, every single one of them since the very first is male!  There is one lonely female blossom developing at the very end of the vine.  I've been checking it every morning for the past week, and it doesn't seem to be getting any bigger or any closer to blooming.

Just wait.  It'll finally open while I'm visiting the country house.