Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Thoughts

Just trying to get back in the habit of writing something.  Sometimes when you write, thoughts happen.

I like twitter better than facebook, I'll have to think about why.

My dreams last night involved speedboats racing down a busy highway.  Also, I managed to solve a complex problem, but I can't remember what it was.

Ever catch a dog sleeping when it should be working?  Humans react similarly.

Dogs work?  Pickles' job is to look out the windows & warn us if any cats are around.

Didn't watch the Oscars last night - pretty much forgot all about them.

Did watch part of a Starz version of a Hallmark movie - substitute Henry Winkler for Kevin Klein & take out all the 4 letter words & it could have been a Hallmark Christmas special.  You know, where someone always dies on Christmas eve.

Very warm and very windy this morning in beautiful Valdese, NC.

I'm getting my rear-end kicked in some stupid strategy type computer game, and for some reason it irritates me. 

The end of February is nigh.  The season of grass mowing approaches.

I can think of a lot of reasons why the Mayan calendar ended on the 2012 winter solstice.  Most likely they figured that was far enough, though if they had become a dominant civilization the world would be facing some real calendar related issues in the not too distant future.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes I wished I hadn't sold something.

We sold this picture on eBay today.  I dutifully packaged it up and shipped it off, wishing all the time that I'd kept it, put it in a frame and stuck it on a wall or put it on a shelf somewhere. 

Of course it was not a large picture.  It had a cardboard backing (I cropped it out for this post), and well over a century ago someone trimmed the backing down to a size where it would fit in a CDV album.  It measured 2.5 X 3.75 inches in it's trimmed state.

Even though it was not a size where it would dominate a room or even a section of a wall, it was still an interesting, quirky little picture.  I find it sometimes happens that I don't realize how interesting something is until someone buys it. 

These gals were young in this picture, in their 20's perhaps.  If they lived into their 80's, then they probably died in  the 1950s or so.   Young people would have looked at them and not have been able to imagine them ever being young. 

There was a photographer name (Bautner) on the backing, but no other identifying information at all.  I assume these two will remain anonymous, and I really hope the person who bought this picture enjoys it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reading again

Suddenly I'm doing a lot more reading, pretty much 2 books at a time.  I have a downstairs book and an upstairs book.  I just finished "Feet of Clay" by Terry Pratchett, and I'm fixin' to finish "The Girl Who Played With Fire" by Stieg Larsson.  Both books are part of a series, and both have a mystery & action, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends. 

Terry Pratchett is kind of fantasy/sci-fi, but more fantasy, with lots of insight, social commentary and wickedly funny in spots.  I'm still laughing about Rogers the bulls who had a very large forehead, meaning each eye had a different view, so he thought he was two animals, so he always refered to himself in the plural, hence Rogers the bulls.  That and Wee Mad Arthur, the rat hunter.  And Detrius the troll breaking up a chair because a doctor needed a stool sample.  And all the heraldry puns.  And Fred Colon's attitude toward "detectoring". 

Stieg Larsson is mystery/action (and also deceased).  He also had very good insight into human behavior, and obviously researched a lot of things.  His plots are much more complicated and involved than Pratchett's, and his characters are much more real.  But then his characters are all human, and many of Pratchett's arent, and there is at least one where people aren't quite sure one way or the other.  Larsson's books are page turners, it's hard to put them down.

So pretty soon I'll be starting on Pratchett's "Jingo", and Larsson's "Hornet's Nest", continuing the series of both authors.  I just have to figure out which one will be my upstairs book, and which one will be my downstairs book.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little history thinking

Although I rarely mention current events in this blog, I'm not immune to them.  In fact I keep up with them pretty well.  I just choose not to write about them too much.  Anyway, I'm very aware of the events in Egypt, and I wonder about the ramifications. 

Frequently revolutions in history work like this:  A government is overthrown, another government takes it place, after a period of time (week, months, maybe even years) another type of government takes over.

That's a broad stroke generalization and it may not always happen that way, but it's a frequent occurrence.  It happened in the USA - our revolution involved an 8 year violent struggle against a must stronger power.  After we won our independence in 1783, the country existed under the Articles of Confederation.  This arrangement where the various states were pretty much sovereign and the central government was very weak apparently was not working well, so there was a constitutional convention, the new constitution was created and ratified, a federal style government created, elections were held in 1789 (I think), George Washington was elected president and we've had this federal form of government ever since.  But we went through that process of Revolution, Interim Government, Different Government.

In 1917 or 1918 the Russian Czar was overthrown.  There was an interim government which I think only lasted a period of months, then the Bolsheviks came to power & the county was pretty much a dictatorship for the next 70 years.

In 1918 the Kaiser in Germany abdicated, and a Republic was established.  The Nazi's came to power in the 1932 elections and that was pretty much that until their government (and much of the country) was destroyed during WWII. 

In Iran the Shah was overthrown, another government established, and it was overthrown, and the country became an ultra-conservative theocracy.

So a defacto dictator in Egypt has resigned as a result of an uprising.  There is apparently an interim government being run by the military.  What happens next remains to be seen.  If I were a betting person, I'd say the odds of a strong European style parliamentary democracy being established in Egypt are not very good.  I'd say the odds are much stronger that another dictatorship (defacto or otherwise) will eventually take hold, though I won't wager on what type of dictatorship it may be.  All I'm pretty sure of  is that eventually things are going to change, and it'll be interesting to see what kind of change it will be.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Thoughts 2-5-2011

It was a cold damp and mystic dog walk this morning.  Lots of etherealness everywhere.  Tons of firmament.  Sharp noises cut through the air, I assumed made by the winged animals, though for the most part I did not see them.  I could hear occasional howling behind fences.  People passed us by in their mobile self contained artifical climate pods. We trudged on.

I've come to the realization that there are lots of things I'll never experience.

What is socially acceptable in the dog world, is quite frowned upon in human society.

For thousands of years, people have been buying things and reselling them at a profit.  How on earth did that come about?

Every person you've ever heard of, now and throughout history, is just a tiny tiny fraction of all the people who've ever existed.  The best most people can hope for is to have their name remembered by their great-grandchildren.

Sometimes I look out at our property and wonder what I could do to make it look more rednecky.

Once I witnessed a local deputy-sheriff in Ashland Kentucky being yelled by a secret-service agent.  That's not something you see every day.  I'd wager most people on this planet have never seen that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Our eBay Month - January

This is just me, trying to figure out if what we're doing is working or not.  I thought one way to figure that out would be to compare the results of the month just ending to the previous month, and also to the same month the previous year.  This time last year we were still doing consignment, but that was winding down a bit.  It'll still skew the comparisons a bit, but not too tremendously.  Also I want to do this without giving out actual dollar values of income and/or expenses, so  hopefully I'll have figured out the best way to go about that by the time I stop typing this post.

Our eBay business lives and breathes on old standard sized (3.5 x 5.5 inch) postcards and antique photos.  We do sell other things from time to time and we plan to sell more 19th century trade cards this year, but right now month in and month out it's postcards and photos. 

We had a pretty good January, significantly better than December 2010, and also better than January of last year.  January 2011 also out paced the monthly averages for all of 2010, so it qualifies as a good month for us.   When I look a little closer, the difference between January 2011 & December 2010 becomes very obvious.  Postcard sales for the month were almost identical - both in the total sold and the amount of money we received for them.  Sales of photos, however, were significantly higher in Jan than in Dec.  We generally sell photos for more than we do postcards, so that was good for us.

This is a trend I've noticed.  Frequently it's the sale of photographs that determines if we have a good month or not.  Our postcard sales seem remarkably steady.   The photo sales are less so, and I don't really know why we sold significantly more photos than normal in January.  We have some repeat customers and one person (bless his heart) bought several, but it doesn't account for the difference.  All I know to do is to keep doing what we're doing & hope the sales keep increasing.

I do plan on increasing sales of Trade Cards - 19th century cards usually with pictures and a write up advertising products and businesses.  People collected these cards back in the late 1800's, and they still do today.  Hopefully this will help boost sales.

About 20% of our total sales last month were to international customers, a higher percentage than normal.  About half of our international sales last month went to our Canadian customers, and I thank every one of them.  The others went to Australia, Ireland, Luxemborg, Italy, UK, Japan, France & Germany.  I thank all of them too.

Still haven't figured out a satisfactory way of writing this up without using dollar amounts.  I guess percentages will have to do, because actual dollar amounts just aint gonna happen. It appears that in January 2011 we earned 20%+ more than we did in December 2010, and about 30% more than the 2010 monthly averages.  That's a decent month for us.