Back In The Day Prices Versus Today’s Values on eBay

So I am selling a little cast iron toy tractor on eBay – do my research and it seems like it is from the 1920′s.  I list it at that and set a price tag of $250.  Bam!  I get an email from some guy who claims that back in the 1970′s these were made in Taiwan and he sold them at tractor shows for like $10 to $20.  He starts razing me to no end that I need to change my auction, lower the price, after all it is only a piece of junk. 

Call me a skeptic or cynical, but I’m not buying this line of outrage.  His email was almost threatening – as in wrath of God type thing. Okay, we all know there are some nut cases perusing the eBay site, so why exactly do I get this one?  Anyway, I write back to him, probably a big mistake, and explain that I had looked on eBay and found identical items like mine and that I priced mine mid-range to what those were priced at.

He writes back letting me know he is an antique dealer and he knows this stuff and that I am doing the wrong thing.  Well, my first instinct was to report him to eBay for harassing me. After all, he better have sent out an email to every other seller with that exact same item and tell them what he told me, right? 

His email got me to thinking about this.  First off, if he is an antique dealer, what better than to bully me into dropping the price and he snaps it up and turns it around for a major profit?  Second, if he in fact sold the same thing back in the day for $10 to $20 each,and it was considered a piece of junk, well, whoa Nellie, let’s do some math here.  Back in the day the average salary was under $10K a year in this country.  Secondly, the price of gold was about $25 – $30 an ounce.  So he was selling this piece of junk for anywhere from 40 to 60% of the price of an ounce of gold?  Something doesn’t make sense, and not just mathematically.

I wrote back and let him know that my conclusion is the above as well as it should be obvious to him if he is in fact an antique dealer that items from the 1970′s are now vintage and worth more money than back in the day.  Secondly, skipping that entire point, if I wanted to sell this item and turn the same profit that he was turning on it back in the day, then I would set the price to be 40 – 60% of the price of an ounce of gold in today’s market – would only be fair it seems.  Either way, in my guts I believe this guy just wanted to pick it up cheap either for his own collection (which he admitted he does collect these) or to turn a nice tidy profit for himself.

Seems like a gal just can’t get ahead…I want eBay to be fun but some people just want to turn it into a giant hassle.  Oh well, time to add his user name to the blocked bidders list.  My guts tell me he is trouble.

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State Of The Union – Mine

What a great idea actually to have an annual open meeting describing the current state of affairs and outlining what we want to achieve in the coming year; not only for government but on a personal level.  How many of us ever do this. We all watch the president get out there and make his points. But how many of us do this for ourselves. No, not new year resolutions. No, not those nagging little voices throughout out day criticizing ourself or commending ourselves. At least we need to have this meeting with ourself face to face in the mirror and get it all out there. The productivity possible from this would be awesome.

Dolls – But What Kind Is This One?

I love dolls and sell a lot of dolls on eBay.  There is just something wonderful about them – guess I never did have many growing up back in the day and unfortunately, I was pre-Barbie era. Now that really ticks me off because Barbie just has everything and its all so glamorous – what a totally delightful fairy tale world has been created around her.

Anyway, the real question I have at the moment is I have acquired a number of dolls from an estate and researching them to find out exactly what they are is a true task – particularly when they are not the obvious type – like Barbie.  So here is a photo and a link to one I just can’t find any info on and if someone out there knows what she is, please do tell me.

 

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2013 Year End Bad Luck Dump

At the end of each year we get an opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the previous 12 months.  We add up the good and the bad and look forward to a new year filled with more good luck than bad. After all, the new year is supposed to be a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to do better, make things all right with the universe.  If only there was a way to hedge those bets, to perform some last minute action that would at the very least boost the odds in our favor.  But the time is too short, the few days left are quickly running the clock.

Being a die-hard optimist, I’m always looking for that loophole or last minute “fix”.  Sooooo…one of my favorite traditions for New Years Eve is to burn up all the bad luck from the previous 12 months.  The tradition of burning up our bad luck must be part of some racial memory, because it is found in many cultures throughout the centuries.  I think it was definitely developed by men because just like men love to grill out nowadays because of the element of the excitement of playing with fire, so too they came up with burning something when it was too cold to grill outside!  Women, on the other hand, tend to go into a cleaning frenzy, again historically based on the concept of the clean sweep for a fresh start. Have women been working harder not smarter by doing all this clean up when all that was needed was a good blaze? Humm…probably.

So, once again, this New Year’s Eve I will spend the day gathering items that represent the bad luck of the previous year; loser lotto tickets, receipts for items that were a bad buy, credit card statements that may indicate mounting personal debt, copies of medical bills, any correspondence that was not exactly “nice”, “beneficial”, or particularly happy news, a small part (preferably something flammable)  from a computer, car, or appliance that broke down, etc.  The list goes on and varies according to what has happened during the prior 12 months.  Some years the pile is pretty hefty, and fortunately there have been years where it was much smaller.  But, the key element is that regardless of the size, and I do try to keep this manageable, it all needs to fit into a silver (or silver plate) bowl, whether the bowl is high rimmed or more like a flat server doesn’t matter.  The material of the bowl is important, however, because it symbolizes something of “value” that you are willing to get rid of to bring about the eradication of all the bad stuff of the prior 12 months.

Then, at about 11:55 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, with all these items assembled, along with a lighter or matches, and after a tad of celebratory refreshments applied liberally throughout the evening, I will step outside into the back yard and raise the bowl and its contents toward the stars and shout out to the universe that my bad luck is gone from my life and the space it has made will be filled with abundant good luck.  I may do a little tippy toe dance around the yard depending on the residual effects of the previous celebratory libations.  And at that point – It’s Show Time – Midnight – Ignite The Fire!  Just be sure to set the bowl down on the ground before you ignite the contents – nothing worse than holding a silver bowl with a fire blazing in it and starting the New Year in an emergency room with third degree burns on both hands and drunkenly trying to explain to a nurse why this happened.

As the smoke begins to billow and swirl through the night sky there is always a sense of burdens being lifted from my shoulders, taking all those monkeys off my back and handing them back to the universe; a general sense of relief. I will watch mesmerized by the dancing flames and plumes of smoke spiraling away until the last ember has faded, then head back inside and tuck myself into bed, once again hopeful that the New Year will bring a wondrous fresh start abundant with good fortune.

 

But the bottom line to this fun and refreshing New Year’s Eve tradition for me, after all is that maybe it’s just the symbolism and the sense of doing something to effect the immutable forces that be along with the excitement of playing with fire.  And darn if it isn’t a lot more fun than scrubbing, waxing and cleaning the house.

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Goals For The New Year of 2014

Oh my, I have a list that has been growing for a very long time, as I’m sure so many of us do.  It seems that it just keeps getting longer because of all the unfinished business of each previous New Year and all the unmet goals that seem to pile up on each other.

This year, instead of a rehash of all the accumulated unmet goals with a fresh topping of new goals, it is time for me to re-think this entire process.  De-cluttering old goals is as difficult as de-cluttering my closet, if you saw my closet and much of what has now become vintage clothing you would truly grasp the magnitude of this statement.   I tend to hang on to what is turning out to be irrelevant and unproductive visions from the past of what my future should be and what I should be accomplishing. What is really the worst part of it all is that the visions and dreams of the past are bogging me down.  Probably time for me to face reality, I will not do certain things any more, and will not even attempt certain things any more – partly due to the natural process of aging physically which makes those things a tad out of reach at this point as well as the natural evolution of changing interests.

So why do I hang on so tenaciously to those things – even unmet goals – from the past?  Wow – not a trick question and I have a very easy answer – back when those goals and dreams were made and developed, may just have been happier times, and they fit with that line of thinking.  There was more future ahead and a bright eyed optimism in facing it.  And, more importantly, there were people in my life back then who unfortunately are no longer here, that I was close to and who fostered an environment where I really believed anything and everything was possible.  Is this the natural process of simply aging?  If it is, what a shame.

But this New Year – no more pre-set goals.  2014 is going to have to just play itself out and spin on and on, and I will see how it unfolds and hopefully move into the right alignments as it does.

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It’s The Holidays

was thinking about how so many people say they are all stressed out about money, work, family, AND thrown on top of all that – ta da -  the holidays…First of all, I think that most men, in general,  really don’t like the holidays at all. Not trying to start a gender war here, but just an observation over like 5 decades or so.

That is probably why Dickens wrote Scrooge – to point out that fact – and also if you carefully study the story of Scrooge – the men in it who are really enjoying the holidays were either drinking heavily or had been drinking heavily.

It seems to me that Christmas has pretty well lost its religious significance at this stage (not going to delve into all the reasons for that, and will acknowledge that yes, the religious significance still does exist on certain levels throughout the world – but generally not in as big a way as it had say 5 decades ago).  So the given – Christmas is basically a  commercial holiday.  When I was growing up a big part of it was the religious aspects for me and my family – I mean a really big part – sure the presents were neat – but honestly even back then “the reason for the season” was in fact the religious part and Santa and the gifts were secondary (great but always second place).  Actually, back when, we didn’t even get any kind of extravagant stuff – it was pretty basic – read further on and you will see why that was -Now back to men in general not really liking the holidays -

Let’s face it – not many guys choose to go see The Nutcracker Ballet – they go because the gal wants to go – guys hate putting up Christmas decorations – they do it because the gal wants it – they hate parting with a dime of their hard earned money (it seems they really identify with Scrooge – pre-ghost visits – at Christmas) but – they do it because the gal wants it and it is kind of expected of them to cough it up  at least for their families – even if they do so all the rest of the year – but miss Christmas and you are toast.

I can remember way back in the day – like my grandmother’s and mom’s day and even my day when I was growing up (like until the age of about 35 or so) – people didn’t buy stuff constantly year round – so Christmas really was a time when you got the things you needed. In fact, when I was growing up there were absolutely no stores open 24/7, no department stores or malls were open every night – they closed at 6 pm – and only stayed open one evening a week till like 9 – for some reason usually a Thursday – and were never open on a Sunday – in fact almost nothing was open on a Sunday except some restaurants, a few (very few) gas stations (and they didn’t sell stuff other than gas for your car), and maybe a stationary store (we don’t have those any more – they sold newspapers and candy usually and that was about it) oh and there was usually a bakery that was open till 2 in the afternoon on Sunday. No grocery stores or pharmacies were open on Sunday either.  All else was totally closed.  Wonder how people today would survive if those were the hours of everything again – they would probably riot in the streets.

So maybe it comes down to “stuff overload” – because we can get “stuff” 24/7 (thank you retailers and thank you internet shopping and I mean that sincerely because I love to shop) – Christmas even with its commercialistic  insanity – just doesn’t cut it any more and mostly annoys the crap out of most people (witness the grim faces of shoppers, travelers and throngs of people trying to do all that “holiday” stuff).

Oh and god forbid you give someone a homemade, handmade gift nowadays – they look at you like wow – what planet are you from?  Even that heartfelt sentiment has gotten trashed – maybe because nowadays most people have absolutely no skills to produce any kind of handmade homemade or even home cooked things that are vaguely interesting or good or fine or usable.  I mean really – do you want a hand made from Popsicle sticks  wood charging station for your cell phone – and if you do I’m sure Amazon sells them (probably made in China) and probably better made than your average hobbyist could produce.

So here’s the thing – cheer up – that stress you are feeling about all this stuff unfortunately is nothing more than the simple fact that you are a product of your times and the times have evolved. Honestly – these times – nowadays – are pretty lackluster – despite all the fab tech stuff – what I’m talking about is the heartfelt stuff is missing – and if you don’t have that – well – hey – you know the drill – you can’t buy it either – you can buy plenty of temporary diversions (but you buy those year round)  – but you can’t buy the feelings and experiences you are missing that we are weirdly programmed to believe the holidays are supposed to be giving us. All the songs and ads and bright lights and colors and decorations, the trappings that are supposed to spark some deeper meaning, some deeper emotion, they just don’t do it for most people any more.

Now for the final issue – Christmas is supposed to be for the children.  So….here I must ask…what is it supposed to be about for the children exactly?

Maybe someone needs to come up with some real new meaning for the holidays that would click with most people, for the adults as well as the children – religion hasn’t done it, commercialism is an every day occurrence – wonder what it would be…

My favorite thing to do when I am faced with a quandary – is google it – so this is the first picture that comes up under google images when you search – perfect Christmas.  Is it really all now just about the tree?  Nah….

just sayin’

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A Quick Glance

What do we really see when we look at something?  Each day so much passes before our eyes; our surroundings, media bombardment, people, products, the world around us, flashing images as we drive along a road.  But what does the mind truly absorb and how detailed are these images?  The fast pace of most of our lives puts us into a place where snap assessments and decisions are par for the course; but what are we missing?  Slow down, live in the moment; we hear these phrases all the time, but hey, we have a life to live and really don’t have the opportunity to do that too often.  What I have found that really causes me to take detailed notice is taking photos and examining the results closely.  This, of course, began with selling items on eBay and having to notice minute detail so that products could be described accurately to potential buyers.  However, at the next level of taking photos of “everything and anything else” it became obvious that we miss so much in our quick glances of the world we inhabit.  Of course, I would have thought with my mantra being – life is in the details – I would have realized long ago that I needed to be able to absorb and process those details. 

And what of relationships? How much detail do we truly garner from the people who cross our paths?  And, how skewed is our perception if it is based simply on viewing what those people can offer us – you know – that old it’s all about me view where we can easily discard that from which we do not see immediate personal benefit flowing our way.  Is it really too much work and is too much personal effort required to stop and actually get to know the people who touch our lives? Are we always set up to quickly discard that which with a tad more personal effort might lead to a more fulfilling and extraordinary life experience? Or is it that we have to rely on our “gut feelings” hoping that somewhere and somehow we sense when someone deserves more of our attention or not.  How valid are our gut feelings, since those are formed from our own past experiences, both good and bad. The personal benchmark performances we have tucked away in our memory now serve as the basis to categorize all new experiences and people we encounter. Is it possible to change that benchmark that lives in our guts?

My answer is yes it is possible, but only if we step away from the emotionality of our own pre-conceived ideas and wipe that slate clean, and take a longer deeper and more encompassing look at what exactly we are seeing before passing judgment that someone or something was only worth that “quick glance”.  In a sense, take a mental photograph and analyze it as we would any photograph, without the emotionality of our past clouding the view.  Time to stop-frame the images before us and give things and people more than a quick glance, because life truly is in the details.

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