Categories
Work Writing

Matter and Matters

Sometimes (actually most of the time) it’s far too easy to get caught up in this world of matter. This world of financial responsibilities, bills, wars, rumours of wars, and again financial matters – most especially money. Money, money, money, money, money, money, money.

laopirate

It’s what makes this ridiculous world go around. Right?

Nope.  Dead wrong. All the money can disappear and the world will keep spinning. All the bills can go unpaid and the world will keep spinning. All the credit can be ruined, all the bank accounts emptied, and all the money sucked up by a giant rainbow eating typhoon and still this old world will go on round and round.

What keeps the world spinning? Gravity. Strong force. Electromagnetic influences we don’t understand. Maybe even love if you are a poet or a certain kind of mystic, but money has abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with the world going round.

Money has been making my head spin lately – it’s been affecting the way I see the world, it’s been affecting my moods, and almost certainly as a result – it’s been affecting my health and my relationships.  And – money has been quite effectively eluding me as I do everything I can to get my hands around it.  Money does seem to work like that – the more you need it, the more elusive it becomes.

Changes to Google algorhythms finally seemed to have cut off my ability to make money on a regular basis with my travel websites. Google banning me from the adsense program (and despite my inquiries – they won’t tell me what it was I did) closed another door.

Ebay has been a good source of income to my family – but recently I’ve been hit by scammers and frivolous returns – Ebay makes money from buyers, not sellers – so the whole system is set up to protect those who transfer their cash to ebay – which has created many great opportunities for scammers to buy things and then file frivolous claims. They get their money back, they keep the items, and they file insurance claims on damage – Ebay looks on as sellers get ripped off. There are so many sellers that I am sure those of us getting ripped off are considered acceptable collatoral damage.

I thought that getting a space in an antique mall would be a good way to move away from Ebay – and I found an antique mall that seemed to be moving in a great direction – but as soon as we got in the owner started going in self destructive directions by alienating  vendors and making other reputation ruining moves – soon we were just one of a handful of vendors hanging on in a huge emptying space. For the four months we were there, we paid $1000+ in rent and commissions while earning only about $650 and losing about $1800 in inventory – do the math and you can quickly see that it wasn’t working.  We bartered for another space in a different mall and have had about the same results.

Tables at the flea market in Eugene were another angle that I hit – with more success than in the antique mall – but the markets are infrequent and the crowds are very hit or miss. Tomorrow is the last market until autumn – we’ll go back, but we’ll miss the one tomorrow because tomorrow is also Father’s Day and here in Reedsport, the last day of the Annual Chainsaw Carving Contest – which is important for us – see below.

The best solution seemed to be opening a little shop of our own. For less than the cost of the antique mall space – I was able to rent a small shop in Reedsport right on Highway 101. Reedsport Antiques is now open.  We’re not making money hand over fist – in fact – for the hours I’m putting in, I’m definitely earning less than I’ve ever earned – but – in the first two weeks, we’ve earned enough to almost cover the rent – which is better than we did in any antique malls.  To cover the added expense of opening and running a shop I hoped that the last flea market, an estate sale we helped run in California, listing a large number of valuable items on Ebay for bargain prices, and shop sales would help – as I wrote above – all of them failed and when you count on money or need money from a source – that’s about the time that money runs away from you screaming.  It’s frustrating.

And of course, it doesn ‘t matter. It’s hard to keep that in mind. It’s hard to remember that. My $43k in student loans are deferred and growing through negative amortization. If I don’t pay them – the world won’t end. Our shop and all my hours are almost paying for the shop – but food and rent and insurance premiums need to get paid for from somewhere – and if they don’t – well, it won’t be the end of the world either.

Money matters…in this world of matter. We need it and the more we need it, the more it runs from us. That’s why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There is a very real and very not understood law of cause and effect with money – which could very well be the reason we are put here, the challenge we are given to overcome, or could be nothing at all.  All of this could just be a dark comedy we created for ourselves and which is going to play itself out while the world keeps spinning and then be forgotten while the world keeps spinning as we disappear from the universe and return to the nothing we came from.

Money doesn’t matter.  I figured that out at one point. It’s time to figure that out again.

Categories
Antiques

Jinxing Yourself – My Box of TR King Poker Chips – The Sleeper

I jinxed myself with my last post. I know it’s a bit superstitious to think that one actually can jinx one’s self – but I guess that bit of superstition provides a little bit of meaning and understanding to things we just don’t understand.

My last post titled You Don’t Make Money Selling – You Make Money Buying was a pretty good article. The information in it was solid and true except for one little bit of prediction I made which sort of ruins the whole thing for me – I said, right at the end –

“I found my sleeper and ended up paying $1 for an item that I would flip for over $2000 within a few days…I’ll tell you about that in the next article which will be all about sleepers….”

Man, I wish I hadn’t of said that. You see, I hadn’t actually flipped my sleeper yet but I was so sure that I would be able to – that I allowed hubris to grab me and let my fingers do the bragging that jinxed me. Truth be told – I’ve been waiting for my sleeper to sell so I could write my triumphant “I told you and here is the proof” post – but, like I said, I jinxed myself.

clay poker chips

I’ll tell you about my sleeper find later in the article, but first I want to fulfill my promise about explaining sleepers.

In the antiques and collectibles business, a sleeper is an item that the seller has overlooked – an item which is priced well below market value. You might think that sleepers are hard to come by, but they are everywhere -even in antique shops, flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, or high end auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Bonham’s.. There is always a sleeper.

The reason is that unless the seller is only selling one thing that they are completely sure of and expert on -it is probable that there is something of value which they have overlooked. An example would be those very nice staplers I wrote about in a previous post, or maybe a vintage Barbie thrown in among the modern Barbie dolls, a broken dresser with valuable hardware on it, a pair of ruby earrings that has somehow found it’s way into a junk jewelry box, or a box of 75 clay poker chips from 1955 marked Commanche Club Poker Room that wound up in the dollar box of a hoarder sale.

Yup, that’s what I found. As soon as I saw that they were embossed, I knew they were special – even if they hadn’t of been embossed, they would have been a sleeper since a box of T.R. King small crown poker chips made of clay is worth $40-$60 by itself –

Commanche Club

These were special though. Every chip was marked $1 – Commanche Club. A bit of research showed me it was a Los Angeles card room that had closed in 1955. Further research showed me that individual chips sold for anywhere from $35 – $95 each.  I did the math and listed them on Ebay for a discounted price of $2250 with a “Make an offer” option. I was sure they would sell within a day or two and then I jinxed myself by writing that last post and including my bragging.

Still – it’s an awesome sleeper and is just waiting for the right butt to come along and fill the seat. I’ve left enough meat on the bone for a dealer to make a nice profit – the thing is – it’s a big investment – so it will take the right person coming along.

So, the sleeper is what you are looking for when you are picking. Whether it is the $100k piece of furniture which is for sale at only a few thousand dollars, the red line hot wheels inside the box with the modern ones, or the broken Turtle Timer watch from Zell Brothers of Seattle (which most people don’t know is actually a Rolex movement inside a watch with a silly name).

Here’s the thing though – don’t jinx yourself. One way to make sure you don’t make a sale is to brag about it before you do – I don’t know why the universe works that way – it just does.

Oh, I almost forgot – if you want to buy the T.R. King Chips from the Commanche Club – just click the link…

Categories
Writing

The Scammer – A Work of Fiction

The internet has made the world far too easy to exploit. Scammers have risen from the gutters to the auction sites and free classified sites where they prey on those struggling to feed their families or those struggling to pay their power bills. Young men in Edgecombe and Nash Counties who previously might have gone to UNC Greensboro or Falls Road Baptist Church now take to the internet with their new form of American social network self-importance and narcicistic facebook-esque hubris. They use brains that could otherwise be used for the good of the many for the good of their own ego and nothing else. When they are insulted, they take guns from their bleach blonde divorcee mothers and go on shooting sprees at their high schools or universities.

They leave their mother’s covered in blood among the wiggs she once thought made her stylish and they kill their classmates – or they simply pray on those who are trying to take care of their families.

Zachary Mitchell was one such boy. A boy who played basketball, loved the Tarheels, and made a little extra money scamming people on the internet. It was all so easy…until it wasn’t any longer. Then, suddenly, overnight – he found himself in a nightmare where $178 cost him everything he’d ever loved – and his entire future.

Before he recognized he’d fucked with the wrong person online, his older brothers were both dead -everyone had said the twins would do everything together – and they were right – even in dying. Witnesses saw a slender man come from the pine trees. Hiding within his own shadow was how one said it – but other’s thought it was only his imagination. His mother was next – the one who had worked so hard for him, defended him from his alchoholic father, and ultimately the one who lost all she had worked for so tirelessly, because her son was a scammer.

Here’s a bit of advice for narcicistic scammers…don’t fuck with people who live in violent third world countries. Don’t steal from those who are already struggling to make it. And don’t fuck with a bear when it has cubs to take care of. Might as well add – don’t make $178 the cost for everything you love.

No one really knows what happened to his family. Some say the boy went postal and killed them all before he skipped town and disappeared in the woods. Others say that he picked the wrong mark and paid the price. Still others say that he was dragged straight into hell by the slender man. No one really knows. No one really cares. He was a piece of shit anyway and deserved what he got because he only thought of himself and no one else.