Friday, May 27, 2005

The Weekend at Last!

And it's a scorcher!

Temperatures around here are in the 80s during the day, although thankfully cooler at night (although we're having a hard time getting that cooler air in the house, which makes sleeping a little problematic).

Work went just fine today... we actually got through what needed to be done much faster than I'd anticipated, so I was able to go home at my usual Friday time, rather than staying late. Hopefully, next week will prove to be equally manageable.

So, the three-day weekend... despite my protestations to co-workers that we didn't have any plans, it's looking like a busy one! To wit:

1. Saturday morning: Getting up early to do some last-minute baking of my low-point sweet rolls to bring to our Weight Watchers meeting. I'm also bringing 20 copies of the recipe. I figure an hour of baking time should get them all made. Then, it's off to the meeting!

2. After the Meeting: Rush home, collect Krypto and KO, and go for our usual 3-mile Saturday morning walk.

3. After the Walk: Our neighbors, Ned and Jane, are coming over for breakfast of French Toast and veggie sausages.

4. After Breakfast: Jessi's headed to the Farmer's Market to get some plants. I'll likely mow the lawn while she's gone.

5. Saturday Afternoon, Approx. 4:00 pm: Our friends Larry and Sibyl are coming over to spend the early evening with us. I have no idea as of yet what I'll make for dinner! But I'm sure I'll come up with something.

6. Sunday Morning: Walk the dogs again. If it's not too terribly warm, we may do a bike ride afterwards.

7. Sunday Afternoon: We may go to Tacoma to meet my mom, and a bunch of us may go to Seattle to watch Star Wars Episode III at the same theater we saw the premier of the original SW at.

8. Sunday Evening: Our friends Paul and Bridgette are coming over for dinner with their white boxer, Claude. I don't know what I'll be making for dinner then, either.

9. Monday Morning: Another walk with the dogs.

10. Monday Afternooon: Up to my sister's house in Puyallup for a barbeque. We're supposed to bring something, but I haven't any idea what we're bringing yet.

Like I said, busy, busy, busy!

So what does that mean for this blog? Well, I figure most of you are going to be busy this weekend yourselves, so you won't miss my mini-reviews... and you won't miss them if you are, because frankly, I haven't been to the comic shop yet, and it doesn't look like that'll happen this weekend (or even next).

I'm hoping against hope that when the 1st arrives, the property management company I rented my last apartment from will finally mail out my deposit check... I think they cuold've sent it already, but they were insisting that they had to hold it until the end of the old lease (and I'd already paid for May anyway -- nothing like paying a month's rent on a place you don't live in, eh?).

Which reminds me... I should really check their website to see if they've rented my old place out yet, which would mean getting a refund on part of the rent I did pay!

Hope you all have/had a great weekend!

Jon

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Abbott and Costello Meet This 'N That

And with that title, I've run out of Frankenstein movie titles to use with This 'N That segments... at least, so far as the original Universal movies, anyway!

Work today was exhausting, but in some ways, exhilarating. I showed up at work at 9, and found that the file server was still not completely up and running... but they revived it a few minutes later. Bad news was, everything we'd done on Wedesday was lost, because when they upgraded the server, the new server doesn't back things up every two hours (like the old one)... but instead, once a day at 2 a.m. Thanks to the power outage the night before, no back-up was made.

So the day began with our furiously re-creating everything we did on Wednesday, starting with the ads to be run in Friday's paper. Then we had to redo the Saturday stuff... and so far, I don't think there were any Sunday ads to be redone. With everyone coming in early, and all of us working like the well-trained team we are, we not only made up for what was lost, but we ended up getting finished up with everything we needed by about 7:45 pm... or in other words, after almost 10 hours of work (I expected to be there until 10 pm).

Tomorrow, we get going on Wednesday ads, and I know there's a lot of 'em! It'll probably be the first Friday I haven't been able to leave early in months and months!

Anyway... after getting out of work, I called Jessi to let her know I was leaving earlier than expected, but she didn't answer her cell phone, so I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things. Arriving home, I learned the reason she didn't answer was because her phone was in the house, and she was in the back, using a weed-whacker borrowed from a friend of ours, to get rid of grass around her gardens. When she finished that, I did the rest of the back yard.

Some fun, eh?

I also checked my ebay auctions (no bids so far, but three are being watched by one person -- I don't understand why people do that, you know? It costs nothing to put in a bid, and if you're outbid, you're outbid. Watching an auction rarely results in a bid being placed... but I digress).

We spent the rest of the evening watching Law and Order reruns on TNT.

Do I have thoughts on anything else to share with you tonight? Well... maybe I do, but I'm too tired to bring them to cogent form tonight... maybe tomorrow!

Jon

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

House of This 'N That

Postings will likely be sparse for Thursday and Friday... even more so than normal!

As you may recall, I work for the newspaper in Olympia, and since Monday is a holiday, that means we have an even greater number of ads to build by the time I leave Friday than normal... and tonight, technical problems didn't allow us to put in a full day, so Thursday morning I'll be going to work early, and staying very late!

This also means I won't be getting to the comics shop until Friday at the earliest, so it's likely that it'll be Saturday or Sunday before I'm able to post the mini-reviews.

Don't forget I have those ebay auctions running... there's a link a few posts down!

Been working ahead on "Cover Stories" columns for WF Comics, and I've actually managed to look ahead on the calendar, so I can plan specific columns for certain holidays! I'm working on columns for October now (wow, talk about lead time, eh?), but for you faithful readers of this column, I have good news (and no, I haven't just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico)! It won't be announced until early November, but because you guys are reading this blog, you will be the first to know that I'm looking for submissions of "Comics They Never Made" from the readers, and those that I use will earn the creator a high-quality print on photo paper of one of the ones I've posted! So if you have an idea for one, get to work on it, okay, and email it to me along with whatever text you want to accompany it! Email it to me at waffyjon@comcast.net!

Jon

My "Rules" For Bidding on eBay

Just thought I'd revisit my "rules" for bidding in eBay, given the commercial announcement you'll see below. Revisit? Well, expand might be a better word... I'd kind of mentioned some of my personal guidelines in the "Call to Arms" post a while back... but I thought maybe now would be a good time to throw out the entirety of my own personal "rules" for bidding.

1. Know Your Budget. This is something that can be very hard to do... there's always so much stuff on eBay, that it's all too easy to put bids on too many auctions at once, and then when they're complete, you may find you can't afford to pay for them all at once.

2. Read the Description Completely. I can't stress this enough. There are auctions even now up on eBay where the photo shows multiple items, but the description indicates that only one of those items is up for sale. You may recall the Superman "poster" I bid on without reading the description in its entirety... it's not a "Vintage" poster as the title said, it's instead an "art print" (which I'm still suspecting means he scanned the original -- or a print of the original -- into his computer and printed it out on good paper at best print quality).

3. Don't Patronize Counterfeit Item Auctions, or Violations of Copyright. It's amazing to me just how many auctions go on every day that violate copyright, or are even counterfeit items. Reporting these to eBay doesn't seem to do any good unless you are the copyright holder. People are always making stuff that needs to be properly licensed, but isn't. I remember one time finding an auction for a Pepe Le Pew lightswitch plate... which I thought was very cool, but sending a question to the seller revealed that they made these themself. That's not cool.

4. Use PayPal. I know a lot of people don't like PayPal, but it's the best method of paying for auctions quickly I've ever seen, and you have more protection than if, say, you send a money order. Aside from the aberration mentioned above with that poster, I make it a policy to not bid on auctions that don't take PayPal. I might possibly make an exception if someone local to me was selling an item, and we could make an in-person exchange.

5. Don't Bid on More Than One Auction For The Same Item. Choose one, and if you're outbid, then bid on a different one. Sellers hate buyers who win an auction and then say, "I'm not going to pay because I won another auction for the same thing, but it was cheaper." That's a good way to get a negative feedback.

6. Read the Seller's Feedback Before Bidding! If there's recent negative feedback, look to see what it says. If there's a lot of complaints about items not arriving in a timely manner or at all, or complaints that something wasn't as advertised, you will probably want to stay away. Also consider the total positive vs. negative feedback. If someone has 100 positives and one negative, they're probably ok to deal with... if they have 50 postives and 10 negatives... well, that's a bit iffy, isn't it?

7. Ask ALL Questions Before Bidding. Some (well, a lot) of sellers are not good at answering questions quickly. If you have any question about an auction at all, ask the seller before you bid, and wait for the answer. If it takes them longer than, say, 24 hours to respond, then you'll know how they feel about customer service.

8. Look At All A Seller's Items Before Bidding. Sound like silly advice? It isn't... a seller may have several items you'd like, and you can usually save on postage by winning multiple items from the same seller.

9. If You Can't Find Out The Shipping Cost, Don't Bid! There's nothing so annoying as winning an auction, and then finding out the shipping cost is more than you were willing to pay. If it's not posted, ask the seller!

10. Take Into Account The Shipping Cost! I'm constantly amazed at how many people will bid on an item, thinking they're getting a "deal," when the shipping cost is outrageous. For example, I had a different eBay account (now closed) a long time back, and I was looking at the bids on one item that was fairly unique. They didn't seem to be going as high as expected, so I did my own search, and found there was another item like that up for grabs... and the bidding was about $10 or so more than my item was at. Then I looked at the shipping costs on that competing auction... and the shipping was so much higher than what I was offering, the winner of the competing auction was going to end up paying $20 or more over what the person winning my auction was paying.

11. ALWAYS Look for Similar Items! Don't bid on the first thing you find... check to see if anyone else is selling the same thing. You may find someone else has it in better condition, or at a lower shipping cost, or lower starting bid, or whatever.

12. Bid Your Max and Don't Worry About Sniping. Bidding wars benefit the seller, not the buyers, right? And sniping happens. But there's rarely a true one-of-a-kind item on eBay, so if you know the maximum you want to pay, bid that amount, and don't change it. If you're outbid or sniped, then go to another auction for the same thing. Sooner or later, you'll win the item, trust me! I remember wanting to get this "Friends Party Pack" for Jessi, and I knew that there were usually 2-3 of those up for grabs at any particular time. I decided what the maximum was I was willing th pay (in this case, $15), and that was the max I bid. I also set up an alert (always a good idea if there's a specific thing you want), and after being outbid on 2 or 3 of those auctions, I got an alert for one with a Buy It Now! Price of $11.95 -- three bucks cheaper than my maximum! I used the Buy It Now price, and it's a prized part of Jessi's Friends collection.

13. If The Buy It Now Price is Right, Buy It Now! This kind of extends from my example above... don't be afraid to use the Buy It Now option to win an auction immediately, if the price and postage (and all the other stuff) suits you!

14. Be Wary of Reserves. If there's an auction with a reserve, and the seller doesn't say what the reserve is in the description, I'll sometimes ask the seller what the reserve is, so I'm not wasting my time bidding on an item I can't win at my maximum bid.

15. Pay For Won Auctions Promptly! If you will need a few days before you can send payment (Paydays seem to fall about two or three days after an auction closes, haven't you noticed?), let the seller know ahead of time, so they aren't wondering what's going on.

16. When You Receive Your Item, Check It Out! Open the package, and see if it's as promised. Don't set it aside to look at "later" -- "later" can sometimes be days or weeks later... if you wait too long, you'll lose your buyer protection! If you're happy with the transaction, don't wait for the seller to leave feedback on you... do it first, and be the bigger person. A lot of sellers make it a policy not to leave feedback until a buyer does so first, because too often, buyers forget to leave it. If you're unhappy with the item, let the seller know before you do anything else, and see what they'll do to make it right.

17. Don't Leave Retaliatory Feedback. OK, this is something I've not had any experience with as a buyer, but I've had it happen when I was a seller. If you don't pay for an auction you won, and the seller leaves you negative feedback because of that, don't retaliate... it only makes you look bad. Of course, none of you reading this will ever not pay for an auction you won... right?

Well, I think that's about all of my "rules" for bidding on eBay... I may have forgotten about some in the process of writing this, and if something occurs to me later on, I'll make sure to post it. In the meantime, if any of you reading this have your own "rules for bidding" that you'd like to share, leave a comment!

Jon

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Blatant Commercial Announcement

The time has come for me to divest myself of a few items on eBay... namely, my poster collection!

I've just put up eight DC Comics posters, none of which have ever been taken out of their packaging, on eBay. You can get the listing of these items for sale by clicking
here!

I'm offering these to US residents only, Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation shipping, and shipping is $5 for the first poster, and $1 more for up to 5 more posters... or something like that.

In the coming weeks, I'll be offering more of my posters, including some Beatles posters, as well as the Doc Savage prints I mentioned a while back, plus an Alex Ross Avengers print (just as soon as I can figure out what the USPS will charge to ship them, as well as how I can ship them and keep them flat!).

Your bids are greatly appreciated!

Jon

Today's "Krypto the Super-Dog" Episode

OK, I'd imagine that many of you reading this blog probably don't watch this program... given it's on at 9 AM and (I think) 2 PM... but as I've said before, it's a very fun show to watch, especially for us comic geek types (which I'd imagine most of you are).

Most Krypto shows have two episodes each... the first one today guest-starred Ace the Bat-Hound (always a treat) as he and Krypto (and Kevin, Krypto's boy) teamed up to deal with Dogwood, a dog/plant hybrid. While it's not explicity stated in this episode, I'd imagine that Dogwood would have to somehow be Poison Ivy's project... especially since the usual thing is that when Ace appears, he and Krypto are dealing with the evil pets of Bat-Villains (usually Bud and Lou, the Joker's hyenas, or Isis, Catwoman's cat). Superman doesn't have any plant-based villains that I can think of, so that pretty much leaves Ivy as the culprit here ("poison ivy" was mentioned... Dogwood can grow any kind of plant from his body... but the lady wasn't mentioned herself... and that reminds me... were the hyenas in Batman: The Animated Series the Joker's pets, or were they Harley Quinn's pets? I'm pretty sure it was the latter, and she referred to them as "my babies").

This episode was also notable for the first (that I'm aware of) appearance of Kevin's dad! Up to this point, I'd been assuming that Kevin's mom was a single parent. Nice to see he has a complete family unit, although I do have to wonder why his dad is around so rarely!

The second episode features the re-appearance of two alien friends of Krypto's... who must've appeared in one of the few episodes I've missed so far, so it's possible that Kevin's dad appeared in that one.

Anyway... as I've mentioned before, the Space Canine Patrol Agency from old Superboy issues appear fairly often, although they're renamed the Dog Stars... with some new members created just for the show.

Heh... the second ep is doing a kind of riff on "Honey, I Blew Up the Baby," as Kevin's sister Melanie has been struck by a strange ray that's made her gigantic!

Jon

Monday, May 23, 2005

This 'N That Meets The Wolfman

Yes, dear readers (both of you), when I've been posting a This 'N That, I'm naming them after the Universal Frankenstein movies... so you should be able to guess what the next installment will be named, eh?

Anyway... one thing I didn't mention in the previous post below is that I missed out on Sunday's Seattle ComiCard Convention... in fact, I didn't even hear about it until Saturday, because I haven't seen one word of promotion for it anywhere -- not even on my Sea-Tac Comics mailing list! No flyers at the comics shop, nobody talking about it... if it weren't for Tom Peyer mentioning it on his SuperFrankenstein blog, I wouldn't have known about it!

Bad promoting, Steve Miner... if I'd heard about it, I might have tried to stow away some cash for it, but so far as I knew, he'd given up on doing these shows any more!

Onward...

Still feeling tired and sore from the exercise on Sunday... and today wasn't a day to feel sleepy at work (not that any day is a good day for that!). In case you're new to me and what I do for a living, I'm a graphic designer for the newspaper in Olympia. With the three-day weekend coming up, this is a week for early deadlines, as we've got a lot of newspaper ads to prepare before 5 pm on Friday! Today's workload wasn't too bad... it's really tomorrow that extra stuff should be coming in... and I'm anticipating I'll be working late at least Tuesday through Thursday nights, and maybe even Friday, too! So if the posts are a bit sparse here until the weekend, you'll know why.

Thurl Ravenscroft passed away recently... he was the voice of Tony the Tiger, and sang the song, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the classic animated special. He was 91, which is a pretty good age to live to, methinks. I believe that Kellogg's had long before replaced him in their commercials, as he'd been retired (or at least semi-retired) for some time... but it would be nice if they did some kind of commemorative thing for him, somewhere!

Still haven't watched the last JLU or Teen Titans cartoons! Maybe tomorrow? We'll see.

Still feeling pretty good about the one fan mail I've received about Cover Stories... and hey, I always appreciate hearing from any of you who are reading this, too! Sometimes I do wonder if anybody's reading this outside of my buddy Tony Isabella (who promoted Cover Stories in today's column, in case I didn't mention that already).

Krypto made it through his neutering operation just fine, and he's happy to be home now... he doesn't seem to be any the worse for wear, but just the same, I'll be encouraging him to take it easy for a few days, per the vet's orders.

I thought I had a few more things to mention tonight, but I think my brain is too foggy from exhaustion... so I'll close this entry for now!

Jon

The Ghost of This 'N That - Weekend Edition

Sheesh... some mornings, things just seem to go wrong! Well, not everything... just the post for this blog I started last night, and finished this morning... and then when I clicked "publish post," I had to re-log in, and then everything I'd written was lost forever (even clicking the "back" button didn't bring it back).

So... rewriting this entry, but much shorter this time...

SATURDAY: Weighed in at Weight Watchers, rushed home for another garage sale. Jessi and KO went for a walk while I ran the sale, and that afternoon, I took Krypto for a walk while Jessi ran the sale. After the sale (which wasn't exactly a huge success), we had two birthday parties to go to, my nephew's 18th, and one of our friends' 40th. After both parties, we checked in with a neighbor who's going through a rough time, found out she hadn't eaten anything all day, so I made her something to eat.

SUNDAY: Big exercise day! We took the dogs for a 3 mile walk, then breakfast, then a 6 mile bike ride. Hadn't been on a bike in 25 years or so, and this bike was a bit small for my 6'6" frame. As if I wasn't tired enough already, I then mowed the lawn, which hadn't been done in 2 weeks because of constant rain. After that, I was preparing low-calorie treats for the coming week, and made dinner for us and that neighbor mentioned above. Watched "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" season finale. Went to bed nearly 2 hours earlier than usual because of being so tired. Have taped Saturday's "Justice League Unlimited," but haven't watched it yet, nor have I watched the "Teen Titans" episode "Troq," which aired a few weeks back. Sometime during all this, I started the original version of this blog entry, writing much more detailed stuff about Saturday, but got called away from the computer.

MONDAY: Woke up an hour early this morning, because Krypto had to be brought to the vet for neutering. Before leaving, found I'd received an email from someone who read Cover Stories -- my first fan mail from that column! Got back from dropping Krypto off at the vet, and wrote the rest of the blog entry, and lost it because I'd been logged out (next time I'm called away in the midst of writing a blog entry, I'll definitely click "Save as Draft" before going away!).

Jon