Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Rose by Any Other...Printing

This artwork is fascinating to me, from a marketing standpoint. 

It's meant to subconsciously evoke nostalgia for the 60s/70s, a time when rose, almond, and lilac scents were the rage. 

At that time, printing mistakes were very common. Standards had lowered, more things were mass produced. Printers at that time ran a very real risk of mistakes because there were no computers to make sure each printing run was precise. 

There would be an initial run to place only the background color (rose), then the next primary color (beige) and finally the outline of the rose (black). 

If things weren't properly aligned, the outline would fall way off the parameters of where the rose would be. In order to keep things as inexpensive as possible, they would still release the item, because it was costly to do yet another run.

For more about shampoos/conditioners of the 60s/70s, please see Shampoos of Ages Past.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Garage Sale Tips & Thoughts

My daughter and I just finished a garage sale. In Florida, you're pretty crazy to have one from May through mid-October ...and if you do, more power to you and pass the Gatorade! So the next one we'll have will be in late November/early December.

Everyone in Florida knows that as the host of the garage sale, you remain in the shade with a fan going (unless it's the dead of winter) so we escaped a great deal of the heat.

But the sun reaches its apex in Florida at 2, and as we were breaking down the sale we had to keep going inside to recover, drink fluids, and, in my daughter's case, lay on the cold, hard terrazzo like a dead fish. I lay on a bench, staring at the ceiling, feeling the cool wall masonry against my hot flesh as we discussed the badly concealed crack in the ceiling.

But we had a chance to sit together, make money, visit, laugh, and eat junk food. It was a wonderful bonding experience, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I learned more about my daughter's strong work ethic, enjoyed her sense of humor, and heard the little things that we sometimes forget to share with each other when we're in a rush.

We've had garage sales off and on since the kids were little, and each time I learned a little bit more. My daughter and I discussed what makes them easier, and I'm going to share some of these tips with you.

1. If you can, label everything in advance. Do this at night when you're watching TV. Marker fades in the sun, but permanent marker is a bit better. You can make paper tags by cutting strips of brightly colored paper, threading it around a handle, and stapling it. They also sell garage sale stickers at the Dollar Tree. And you can use printer labels - just cut them in half.

2. Clean, paint and repair everything before you put it out. Would you want to buy a stranger's rusted wine rack? A chair encrusted with cat hair? A cracked end table? The item's condition usually makes all the difference in a sale - we found this out through trial and error.

3. Costume jewelry is a big crowd draw. NEVER put the good stuff out. Shoplifters come to garage sales, just as they go to department stores. Put out the stuff you're OK with going missing. If in doubt, make sure you look in all possible places for marks. Anything marked with a precious metals mark shouldn't go out. And if you have a piece of costume jewelry with a name printed on the back, look up similar pieces to see if it's smarter to sell it on Ebay. Instead of throwing them in a basket, take the time to buy those tiny pill bags they sell at CVS (for people who take a lot of vitamins or meds daily) and bag each one individually and pin it to a cork board. It allows for more table room and the display makes it easier to look over.

4. Reasonably priced furniture is also a big attention-getter. People see it as a bigger, more important sale and worth stopping for if they see you have big, important looking pieces. As with the jewelry, research it if it's old before you put it out. Craigslist is a good alternative for older, more expensive pieces. Put out the stuff that would be great for college kids or someone with a starter home. Pieces that sold well for us:
  • An old cream leather recliner with pen marks on the side from an overly creative kid ($40).
  • A bistro wooden table with two matching chairs ($45).
  • A small solid wood, dark mahogany colored end table originally purchased from Target with a cracked seam (obvious but repaired) for $5.
  • A mission style coffee table reproduction, metal feet and rack underneath it, in faux hammered distressed... $8.
5. Things that don't sell well:
  • Lamps
  • Most electronics (new or old)
  • Collectibles: You have to find that person who collects the particular item you're selling. Everyone else will think you're crazy for charging what you're charging.
  • Glassware, such as goblets, tea cups, etc. There are exceptions here, and matched sets sell better than unmatched ones.
  • Office supplies.
  • Wicker baskets (every thrift store is awash in them) unless it's collectible wicker (and then you should be selling it on Ebay).
  • Silk flower arrangements.
6. Things that sell moderately well:
  • Old tools (even rusted).
  • Kitchen items like pots/pans, mixing bowl sets, casserole dishes.
  • Linens and patchwork quilts that are still in their packaging or are in excellent condition.
  • Sports items like hand weights.
  • Things that can be used 'on the run' because of our busy lifestyle (like insulated beverage holders).
  • Adornments for the home, such as curtains.
  • Craft items.
  • Inexpensive accessories like scarves and purses.
  • Got lots of makeup bags from your Ispy subscription? They sell like crazy at $1 each. But don't put out anything that doesn't weather the sun well - no cosmetics, unless it's in powder form and unused (they go fast).
7. Make sure you post on Craigslist and/or your local Facebook garage sale group each day you have it. I took down the Craigslist post the next day and reposted it to stay at the top of the feed. Write a listing of the better things in the body of the post, and take lots of pictures (you're allowed up to 24). I'll post some photos below which really got great responses. Don't have them reply to your email. Put your cell phone number in there and say that texts and calls are OK. I got a lot of interest from people who otherwise wouldn't have driven by the neighborhood.

8. Ask friends and neighbors to donate tables to the cause, and invite them to sell their stuff at your sale. This is a great way to expand the sale, you can truthfully write "Multi-Family Garage Sale" in your Craigslist posting, and your neighbors will be much happier with all the traffic coming in and out of the neighborhood.

9. Consider putting out a large, clean cooler with ice and drinks. You can buy the drinks inexpensively in bulk from Costco or Sam's Club, and resell them to thirsty customers at a profit.

10. People are jerks. Be resigned to the fact that you WILL have that one woman who wants a $100 item for $1. Just politely say no or negotiate. As my daughter put it, someone will always be butt-hurt that you didn't give them what they wanted. So what.

11. But some people can be awesome. One man walked up to us and said "Who's in charge here?" My daughter and I pointed to each other. "OK, I pick YOU," he said to me. "Now. This is labeled $2." I resignedly waited for the rest. But instead he said " about I give you $2 for it?" We all had a chuckle and thanked him and his wife for stopping by. 

12. The general rule here in our area is: Price it reasonably. Put the price on it that YOU would pay for it if you were the customer. The old fashioned way is to overprice it and expect everyone to dicker with you. Unless you live in an area with a large immigrant population, don't do it. Americans don't like to dicker - we see it as rude. 

13. Take care of yourself. Wear sunscreen, sit in the shade as much as possible, have lots of electrolyte infused beverages on hand, and make sure you have a fan. Agree in advance to protect your home. Don't let anyone in there for any reason - whether it's to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. You don't know these people - they could be predators casing out your home. Be wary of people who ask too much personal information.

14. If they ask if you have something additional which wasn't put out: YOU. DON'T. HAVE. IT. Why? Because if it wasn't put out, you're not sure you want to sell it yet. Don't be pressured into making a rash last minute decision. ALSO: You don't want people knowing what is in your home that they might be interested in.

And, of course, it's always better if you have someone next to you who can laugh for hours afterwards about the woman who brought up a couple pricey items and then imperiously demanded that you accept only $2 for both of them.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Beware of Mom

So Mom and Dad show up on my doorstep this morning. "We were just making sure you're not dead," says Mom dramatically. "I've been calling and texting you for over a DAY and you haven't answered."
"Give me your phone," I say. Mom hands it over. "Well THERE'S your problem, Mom," I say. "You've been texting my old work cellphone."
Somewhere there's the man who replaced me, hiding under his desk in fear and trembling in the dark, trying to understand why he's getting death threats from someone he doesn't know.

Metal Scrappers

Yesterday I advertised on Craigslist: "Two huge metal sheds for scrap: You supply the labor." This was taking a risk, of course. Most people know what a metal scrapper is like.

Within minutes, my phone was blowing up. First come/first served, so I immediately took the ad down once John responded that he would be there in less than 2 hours.

Sure enough, he arrived within two hours, girlfriend in tow. At 10 AM, booze was wafting out of her very pores and both looked like they'd lived under a tree in the hot sun for many years. They drove a rattletrap car.

My daughter advised me to keep an eye on them throughout the entire process, so I put on gloves and waded right in, helping to clear out debris and haul off metal.

He put his wallet and things, including a ring box with a solid gold Marines ring, on an outdoor window sill. I opened the box at one point, thinking it had come out of the shed. "Oh thet's MINE," he said. "I brung it with me."

"Were you in the Marines?" I asked. "My brother was! That looks like HIS ring." He waffled around and said he was dishonorably discharged. I was quite certain he'd never seen the inside of a barracks. (Yes, I'm sure that wasn't my brother's ring - in case you're wondering).

During the day, John alluded to my customized bike (I've had three neck fusions so it's rather odd looking). "Got a need fer thet?" he asked. "Yes," I said firmly, explaining why.

Later he asked about my lawnmower and something else of value.

Putting two and two together, I knew they were (at the very least) opportunistic scavengers. And his constant inquiries about what he could take had me on edge.

Last night I locked the gate in front of them.

Today they came back to finish the job. As they were getting ready to dig in again, I said casually "OH, by the way: If you see a cop car, don't freak out. My boyfriend's a cop and he may just stop by for a minute."

You've never seen white trash move so fast.

I consider that a creative prank and not a downright lie.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Flatirons Community Church: "Let's Not Even Bother PRETENDING We're Genuine Christians Any More"

 A friend who's a musician sent this video to me. He was impressed by the craftsmanship and he's a Christian, yes. I was APPALLED... and I don't say that lightly. 

Here we see a church band performing instead of even pretending to worship God. And what song do they choose? Here's a portion of the lyrics:

"For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on..."

Wow. Just WOW. I guess we've tossed out the issue of 'fornication' in this church. Hey, man, it's cool. Do what you want as long as you attend church once a week and throw money at us.

I know the tiny protestant church I attend can be seen as stuffy by some. Will I always stay in it? Quite possibly, because this is usually the alternative. How sad that the serious services these days can only be found in the orthodox churches, where the message is also lost amongst all the pomp and circumstance.

The problem here is the repeated attempt to turn the churches into bad versions of rock concerts and entertainment forums. The older I get the more repulsed I am by how most churches have deliberately focused away from the inconvenient message of the Bible and instead do what they feel will bring in the masses and the cash. This really took fire with Rick Warren's urgings to turn churches into money-making conglomerates.

With Flatirons Community Church, each sermon online has a "setlist" that accompanies it and there's often a really questionable piece in that setlist. One sermon had a cover of Linkin Park's Heavy, which includes the lyrics:

"It’s not like I make the choice
To let my mind stay so fucking messy..."

It may be that when they sang that number, they changed "fucking" to "fricking". Whoopteedo. If you know that song, you already know the real lyrics.

Now I'm sure the church leaders would protest that they believe in God. But that's simply not enough. 

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder," [James 2:19] which can (again inconveniently) can be found in the Bible that they apparently rarely read unless they're slapping together a quick sermon.

"Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you." [2 Cor. 6:17]. 

Although we're IN this world, we are to avoid licentious behaviors. Have I been guilty of that? Absolutely! But shouldn't church be the model of Christian behavior rather than a model of pagan behavior? Yes, a Christian can go to a club (in my humble opinion) but should they? And if they go to a club on Friday night, do they really need their church to be just another club scene on a Sunday, too? 

I'm sure the church leaders console themselves by saying "Well, we DO preach out of the Bible and tell people to follow along in theirs." But I would caution them with the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.

Of course Flatirons isn't the only church that's falling by the wayside, but someday they'll be held accountable for it. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes on Judgement Day.

“Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.” - Juvenal 

Friday, February 17, 2017

A True Work of Art

I look at the framed print at Salvation Army. I could use the frame. I ask the nearby worker "This says it's $35 but these ones here are similar and you're only asking $15. Can you come down a bit?"

The worker puffs out his chest. "Well now," he says, self importantly. "This here's a real work of art. I collect art, ya know. Why the matte alone is worth at least $100. I know because I had a similar one made for me recently. And it's acid-free, you can tell by looking at it. It prevents foxing. You know what foxing is?" Yes, I assure him, I know what foxing is. I also know you can't tell a matte is acid-free by looking at it, but I don't mention that.

"And it's in perfect condition," he adds.

I point out all the scratches that I'm planning on painting over.

"So," I say, ignoring everything he just said, "can you mark it down or not?"

"The manager will have to do that," he says.

"So could you get her for me?" I ask politely.

"Oh no, I'm wayyyy too busy for THAT," he says.

"OK, where is she?" I ask. He gestures to the woman at the counter, so off I go. I say to the woman "Can you come down on this at all?"

"How about $20?" she suggests.

"Perfect," I say. "By the way, that bald guy who works for you is pretty weird."

"TELL me about it," she says, rolling her eyes. "I can NEVER get him to SHUT UP."

"Duct tape works," I suggest.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Why Would a Christian Have Voted for Trump? Or Clinton?

Today we know that our future President will be Donald Trump. As I skim through my news feed I see elation and I see sadness. That is to be expected.

But what troubles me are the judgmental and petulant comments that the Clinton supporters are making. One that particularly struck me is "...I don't want to hear a single word from anyone who voted for Donald about how much they love or know Jesus. ...If anyone can find anything in the words of Jesus that aligns with the hate-mongering, fear-mongering, crass name calling..." and the rant continues for a while.

It is finally my turn to speak out, although I don't want to. I chose to stay out of most of the political commentary because I was never a Trump fan. I was never a Clinton fan. I'm not going to say who I voted for, or if I voted, because it's not about me and my vote. Instead, this is about WHY a Christian would vote for either candidate.

Christians are complex individuals, just like everyone else. We are not defined merely by our faith. We are also defined by our minds, various goals, wants and needs.

Some Christians chose to abstain from voting for either candidate because they felt that neither was representative of Christian values, which include high moral and ethical standards.

Why would a Christian vote for Clinton? After all, she is a flawed candidate. She is pro-abortion (many Christians are still opposed to this). She is a documented liar and the email scandal is still seen by many as...well...scandalous, whether or not the FBI has given her a pass. If she won, she would have altered history by appointing Supreme Court nominees that would undoubtedly rule against most mainstream Christian ideals.

But some Christians voted for Hillary in the belief that she would be a good mother to us all. Some voted because they thought she would be generous to everyone: Citizens and non-citizens. Some voted because they truly believe that socialism is the kindest form of government, with the hopes that she would create a future utopia that would come close to it. Some felt that Hillary would be a better protector of the downtrodden and the needy.

Why would a Christian vote for Trump? He has no verbal filter. He is crude, obnoxious, and too quick to speak his mind. He is not the man you'd take home to your parents. He is not the man you'd want your daughter to marry. He seems too quick to anger, too dedicated to revenge.

But some Christians voted for Trump not because they agreed with everything he has said or stands for. They voted for Trump for other reasons.

Some were concerned about the future of the Supreme Court. They didn't want their children growing up in a society where the only hate crimes allowed might be crimes against Christians. Some voted for Trump because they want to live in safety, without the worry of an unvetted Islamic terrorist popping by for an unexpected visit to their children's school. Some voted for Trump because they felt that illegal immigrants are economically harming the country. Some voted for Trump because they felt he would side with victims before he would side with criminals.

I know people on both sides of the aisle. I've never heard a Christian say to me, even in confidence, that they were voting for a particular candidate so that they could ruin someone's life. I've rarely heard a Christian say that they hate someone, and if they do, they feel guilty about it and try to let go of their hatred. A true Christian might hate brussel sprouts, but they are told to not hate people. I've struggled with this myself: Not all people are lovable, after all.

That doesn't mean a Christian is obligated to applaud your choices or your lifestyle, however. And it doesn't mean that someone is a Christian only if they agree with you.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Please Remove This Post: It Bothers Me

It's been many months since I last published anything. But today I opened up Blogger yet one more time and saw ... "Please remove this post. This person committed suicide since you wrote it..." [not due to what I wrote] "...and it causes his family much pain" and "Take down this post please. Her family doesn't want to be reminded of her murder."

I've never received requests like this in all the years I've been writing. My only guess is that we are currently existing in a society where we are so busy mollycoddling everyone that we have completely lost our common sense. The fact that someone feels entitled to even ask to have a factual article removed simply baffles me. Are they also contacting all the major news outlets now, requesting that any news articles about their loved ones be removed from the files? Let's wipe out history and pretend it never happened.

Erasure of history is the constant frustration of Egyptian archaeologists. It was common that conquering or newly appointed royalty would order all mention of their former rivals wiped from record. So, presumably, upon the assumption of a new Pharaoh, craftsmen would be sent out to chisel out hieroglyphs and demolish statues until nothing remained. 

When a King or Queen is newly discovered, it's both a cause for great celebration mixed with awe, due to the complexity of the task. If this terrible practice hadn't existed, we would know so much more about that great society! Such was the case with the Pharaoh Akhenaten: He had been obliterated from most items but there was great excitement when they found the first tablets which even mentioned his name. The story of the discovery of Akhenaten is breathtaking to a history junkie. Why was the attempt made to obliterate him so thoroughly? Most experts believe it's because he was monotheistic: A big no-no in that part of the ancient world.

Modern historians and journalists used to scoff at these ancient Egyptian traditions as quaint but savage. Who would be so narrow-minded that they'd do such a thing? We were brought up hearing "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." [George Santayana]. We know better now, don't we?

So what has changed?

We have bred a nation of entitled whiners. We see constant reminders of it everywhere. Here's a recent meme that came out which sums it all up nicely:
How sad is that?

Of course this isn't limited to 18 year olds. Everyone is busy getting on the "you hurt my feelings" train and getting their tickets punched. And yes, I mean everyone. Every one of us, myself included. 

Are we entitled to complain if someone treats us unfairly? Of course we are. The difference is this: We are allowed to complain about what is unfair. We are not entitled to ask for someone to stop speaking the truth simply because it makes us uncomfortable.