March 13th, 2005


The weekend ...

My, it's been an "interesting" weekend. Friday, The Wife was supposed to have a client meeting down by Hyde Park and wanted to get a rental car. I found, once again, that the only Enterprise honoring the "$9.99/day" weekend promo was to-Hell-and-gone out on the NW Side, so I took the El up to Belmont and the Belmont bus all the way out to Cicero to get to the location. When I got there, they had NO "cars" but plenty of pick-up trucks, and a few SUVs ... I opted to take an SUV (which would have typically cost us a huge daily rate) for the $9.99/day special.

Over the past couple of weeks we've had some "equipment failures" around here, with the "most desperate" being the microwave going wonky (we assumed that spewing ozone is NOT a good thing for the oven to be doing!), so I figured having a vehicle would help on that. Lucky for us, Sears was having a 50% off sale on a big microwave, and I was able to walk out of there with the microwave and a DVD/VCR combo player (to replace one that The Girls had managed to screw up) for a total, with tax, of $152 ... I do love getting a deal!

A week or so back, the Tribune had an article about "strange candy" from various world cultures that were available in the Chicago market. One of the things they mentioned was a goat-milk caramel which was available at this chain of Mexican sweet shops, Dulcelandia. Now, one of my all-time favorite candies is this thing I'd had all those times I'd been down in Mexico ... I knew them as "Sevillanas", but I guess they're more generically known as "Oblea Cajeta" ... they're a dollop of sweet sticky goat-milk caramel stuck between two (communion-style) wafers. I went to the Dulcelandia site and discovered (oh, joy!) that they did, indeed, carry these ... unfortunately (being the cheap bastard that I am), I could just not "pull the trigger" on the order due to very high shipping costs. I did, however, discover that they had a location around Fullerton & Pulaski, which (while being far enough west to make it quite an expedition to get there by bus), was only a mile or so from where I was picking up the car! So, I was able to both get my candy fix and get Fabulous Deals on equipment even before I got the vehicle home. This ended up being a Good Thing, as while I was out, The Wife's appointment (for which, of course, we were investing in a car rental in the first place) called to re-schedule for next week.

Another "could have been momentus" thing was showing my Mom's apartment. The real estate gal we have working with us (although she's not started officially showing the place yet) said that she had a couple that was looking for a unit in my Mom's building that they were going to gut out and re-do (so the fact that things are still a mess over there didn't much matter). They had "lost" a unit on the 18th floor and were quite motivated to find another 3-bedroom in the building ... they'd looked at one on the 8th floor, but didn't like how it looked right out on the roofs of the townhouses across the street ... my Mom's place is on the 11th floor, and clears that. Unfortunately, they also did not like looking at the airconditioning units of the Esquire Theater which is a block due south (which is a "feature" of the veiw from my Mom's place) ... however, the Esquire has been sold to a developer, and in the next year or two it will be replaced with a mid-rise mix-use development. The real estate gal had another gal from her office with her, and she has an "in" with the developer in question, and will be digging up what info she can about timing and plans for that location. IF she finds something which would be to the liking of this couple, we'll probably have the sale done! While I'm not "holding my breath", it would be sweet to not have to go through that whole showing-the-apartment process!

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I guess I found out why "seasoned eBayers" don't like to deal with newbies ... I ran into an auction last night that was for 9 holo cards (from the first three sets that we already have complete sets of) and "hundreds of assorted" other cards ... and the starting bid was just $0.99 ... I figured this was an easy way to "pad" Daughter #1's trading supplies and bid, won it at $0.99, and sent in the PayPal payment ($5.99 with shipping) immediately after close.

Well, this morning I get an e-mail from the seller saying:
"... I would like to hold on to the item. This was one of the first times I have used ebay and I fell a need to hold on to the cards.I was not happy with the price. ..."
I'm not sure what to do (I have contacted eBay for their suggestion), since I really didn't need the cards in question, so would be willing to "let him off the hook" when he returns my payment (which, notably, has not happened yet), but on the other hand, if you're going to put something up with an opening bid under a buck, you'd better be steeled to the possibility that the auction's going to go for the minimum. I'd really rather not be an asshole about this, but I can't see how to not at least leave highly critical "neutral" feedback. His case would have been stronger had he "bounced out" my PayPal payment when he decided to try to weasel out of the sale, but I guess at 8 "points" and only being on eBay for a month, he might not have a clue about that ... this is also the first time he's sold any cards (although he's bought one), everything else has been automotive stuff, some of which sold well over the minimums.

Damn. If this was some kid trying to move his just-grown-out-of card collection, I'd feel bad for being an asshole about this, but (looking at his sales history) I'm guessing he's an adult (would a kid be selling a go-cart engine with an opening bid of $350?), and is just trying to duck the auction.

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Damn it ...

OK ... so, I'd been picking up a few more 1¢ cards ... mostly ones we "needed" ... I was up to a nice "even figure" between the shipping and the cost of the cards, with just one more card to go to tidy that all up. I had a bid in on one which was closing this evening (all the others had closed previously), and was waiting for that to come in to finally pay for the auctions (the seller lets you combine auctions, saving money on shipping, for up to 14 days) after nearly 2 weeks of picking up a card here and a card there.

So, I'd been looking in at the "My eBay" page on-and-off and was pleased to see that this one reverse holo card (that we didn't have) was still in the "winning" category, at 1¢ ... I checked it with less than a minute to go, and was all set to hit "pay" for the whole block of cards, but when I refreshed the page ... WHERE WAS IT? It was gone from the "bidding" area but wasn't in the "won" area ... what happened? Well, some motherfucker came in over the top of me with only THREE SECONDS left on the auction ... three seconds. Bastard! Now I need to find another 1¢ card to bid on from this seller (and one that we already have, dammit), and just hope that some shithead doesn't come in over the top again.

Sure, I could pay for 24 cards at 39¢ (plus a non-round shipping figure), but I want to pay for 25 cards at 40¢ with a nice round dollar figure for the shipping! Yes, I am an OCD sufferer ... learn to live with it! OOOOOH, I am pissed off right now!

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Finally ...

Whew! That same motherfucker came in over the top of my bid on the card I bid on to replace the one he'd grabbed with 3 seconds left ... fortunately, I'd pulled up a "backup" and had that ready (with about 8 minutes left) to shoot a bid in on. I don't know what this guy's deal was ... he didn't seem to be bidding on anything with NO bids, only on stuff that had already been bid on, which really doesn't make much sense. I did check his comments, and it appears that he's another of those "banes of my eBay existence", a foreign card dealer ... based out of Sheffield, England. I hadn't hit one of these guys in a while (and it just kills me when I do, since they can pretty much bid "U.S. retail" and still make money on the cards they're getting!) and I'm lucky to get a card "out from under him". As it was the card I won was worth more than either of the ones he beat me on, so that's a small victory, but (needless to say) I would have been MUCH happier getting one of the cards we didn't already have! (sigh) Well, at least now I can pay for these at nice round numbers!

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