Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Gang Of Three

I think they were on a mission - I'm just not sure what that mission may have been....

3:23:56 PM - Friday, June 10, 2011

3:24:34 PM - Friday, June 10, 2011

3:24:54 PM - Friday, June 10, 2011

3:25:00 PM - Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My eBay Adventures

I haven't been a big user of eBay in the past but this year I've been tempted to buy about 10 things that I've found for sale there.

It's proven to be a happy experience only about half the time.

One big frustration for me is that I *never* win bidding wars. It seems that even when I place a ludicrously high reserve bid on a low value item that I'm pretty sure no one else can possibly be interested in, someone comes along and outbids me at the last minute. That happened in February when I tried to acquire "The Baja Marimba Band Rides Again!" LP that I mentioned at the end of my January 20th entry. Although there was nothing special about the item I was bidding on, someone ran the price up to about $16 and edged me out in the process after I thought I'd placed what was sure to be the winning bid. There have been identical LPs for sale for a set price less than that both before and since, so I'm not sure what the deal was. I thought at first that maybe I'd unknowingly gotten into a bidding war with a friend who was trying to buy the item for me, but apparently not. The good news is that I eventually acquired a copy in excellent condition for just $13 (including a $4 shipping charge). The bad news is that losing a bidding war that I didn't expect to lose (and still don't understand) left a bad taste.

A month or so later I got into another bidding war over a somewhat rarer item and ran the price up to about $25 before dropping out. I didn't expect to win that one, however, and was mainly just trying to feel better by making someone else pay about twice as much as they would have had to pay had I not been bidding. That's pretty immature behavior, I know, but it's the sort of thing auctions seem to bring out in even the best of us at times. (Watch A&E's Storage Wars at 10pm tonight if you want more examples.)

I've since limited myself to "Buy It Now" items being offered at a set price by top sellers with high customer satisfaction ratings. Alas, this approach has been problematic as well. Of the 8 items I've purchased this way, 2 never got to me and 1 turned out to be in worse condition than advertised. Although I got full refunds for the lost items and the flawed item cost less than $20, these "What a waste of time and effort!" experiences have pretty much soured me on eBay. I've ordered lots of things from Amazon over the years without *any* problem at all; why should I continue dealing with a site that turns out to be frustrating nearly 50% of the time?

On the bright side... that first Baja Marimba Band LP that I mentioned in my January 20th entry quite unexpectedly popped up on national TV just a few weeks later! I was watching a segment I'd taped about Herb Alpert on CBS's "Sunday Morning" on Feb 13 when the following photo from early in Herb's career popped up:

Herb is second from the right, of course - and Julius Wechter, leader of the Baja Marimba Band, is sharing the center of the screen with him. Although CBS didn't mention Wechter (or offer any other sort of context for this shot), all three of the LPs in this photo were made by his band. (They were his first 3 LPs and the shot was obviously taken to celebrate their success.) The LP I found and bought at a local Half-Price Book Store in December is the one Julius himself is holding. (Well, probably not the exact same one, but... close enough.) The LP I lost in the bidding war is the one on the far left. This is the first and only time I've ever seen any of his albums displayed on TV. What are the odds that the one I'd so recently purchased would pop up there NOW, nearly 50 years after it was first released? Pretty small. Which of course explains the thrill I felt when I saw it.

BTW.... I think that's Jerry Moss on the other side of Herb (Moss being the M in A&M Records). I have no idea who that might be on the other side of Julius. If you know the guy's name, please help dispel a bit of the ignorance in the world by sharing it with me now.

If you've had any experience with eBay - good or bad - please share that, too. Are my frustrations with it typical or uniquely my own? I wish I knew! (But not enough to bid for your story - sorry!)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Three Dreams

I don't seem to be remembering my dreams nearly as well as I once did.

Maybe I'm almost all dreamt out and there's simply less to remember?

In the last month there have been only about three mornings when I've awakened and still had a few lingering sleepy-time images bouncing around inside my head.

The first dream (May 11) involved my sister visiting me in college. She spent the night in a parking space in a parking garage - no car, just a mattress and a few blankets. Apparently that wasn't anything unusual for visitors to the college. If my sister thought it was strange, she hid it well. I myself seem to have had a bed in the narrow median of a nearby interstate....

The second dream (May 30) had me sitting in a grassy area in northern Ohio about an hour before sunset. It was a nice, calm day and I was all alone as cars whizzed down a busy road in the distance. I had my Nook with me (something I've never touched, let alone owned) and was using it to visit a website run by Michael Shermer. The part of the site I was visiting had a series of simple games or tests designed to sharpen or test your thinking skills. The page I was on featured a simple schematic diagram of the underside of an upright vacuum cleaner. Various parts were numbered and you were supposed to list the numbers in the order of importance - the number of the part that contributed the most to cleaning up dust and dirt was to be put first. I got the first number right (the sucky area around the beater) but in second place I stupidly put the number that went with a small square piece of black tape that was stuck to the bottom of the base for no good or obvious reason. Doh!

The third dream from just a couple days ago was less a dream than an image of a sticker. It featured a simple line drawing of a discarded banana skin along with the words "This is pretty slick!" Apparently it was the sort of thing teachers might put on a clever piece of student writing and NOT an entry like this one.

Is there a vitamin or some other nutritional supplement one can take to improve the frequency and/or entertainment value of one's dreams? I think I need to order some!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Eggs and I

Among the many things I inherited after my in-laws passed away last year was the wren house that they used to hang in the dogwood tree outside their kitchen window.

I found it when I was going through my shed recently and decided that the time had come to pitch it.

First, though, curiosity prompted me to open it up.

Although it hadn't been built to be opened (a definite design flaw, IMHO), the rotted roof soon yielded to my crowbar and dynamite.

Here's what I found:

Although two of the eggs had obvious damage and the others were at least two years old, I've decided to gently sit on them in hopes of helping them hatch.

Who knows? Maybe they'll turn out to be pterodactyls!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!

Apparently the groundhogs in Ohio wait to come out and celebrate their holiday until the weather's nice.

Here are a few photos of two that I spotted in my yard today:

Smart animals, those groundhogs. I think I would have waited until today to pop out into 2011 if I could have.

Do you suppose they would have waited even longer to come out if they didn't know there would be little bottles of liquor like the big guy in the second shot is guzzling?

(Honestly, I don't know what that might be by his/her mouth, but it certainly looks suspicious, doesn't it? I wonder if it's enough to get a search warrant for his/her burrow....)