Sunday, June 12, 2005

Do You Ebay?

First, I would like to apologize to my guests for my rather lengthy absence. As many of you know, I have not disappeared altogether. I have managed to drop in here and there to say hello and sometimes a bit more. :) I would like to explain where I have been spending much of my free time of late. You see, I have acquired a new hobby of sorts. Actually, it has become somewhat of an addictive habit! I have discovered the world of Ebay auctions and I have been rather busy attempting to buy various items of interest and utility.

This all started about two months ago. Some of you will recall the post that I devoted to the passing of famed science fiction author Andre Norton. Well, I was exploring her official web site one day and I discovered that Andre and her caregiver Sue Stewart had started a small business of making and selling bead necklace jewelry. Apparently, in the last year of Andre's life, she wasn't able to write any more and she was rather depressed about that. Sue, who is an accomplished craftsperson, suggested that Andre might like to try doing some craft work as an outlet for her creativity. Andre agreed and got very involved in the project. She enjoyed shopping for interesting beads, as well as designing and making the necklaces. After reading about Andre and Sue's Ebay store, I was intrigued and decided to check it out. I thought that it would really be neat if I could buy something that had been hand made by one of my favorite authors. (Just to be clear, I had no intention of actually wearing one of the necklaces! :) ) Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the Ebay store, all of the necklaces that had been personally handmade by Andre had already been sold. However, I noticed that there were a few small items of Andre's personal jewelry available for sale. One of these items, the cat pin pictured below, caught my eye. I really liked it! I knew that cats were very special to Andre and that they figured prominently in some of her books. Somehow, it seemed to me that the cat in this pin had a certain character, perhaps an air of superior intelligence and an attitude to match! I wondered if Andre had selected this pin because she saw something similar when she looked at it.

From Sue Stewart's description: "This item is from Andre's personal collection of jewelry, it belonged to her and was worn by her. The cat pin is made of copper. The eyes and nose are opals and the stones adorning the body are marcasite. It is about 3/4 inches wide and 2 inches tall. Andre was a lover of all animals, especially cats."

So, I had decided to bid on the cat pin, but first I needed to set up an Ebay account as well as a means to fund my purchases. I did a little reading on how to set up an account and then proceeded to do so. It was really quite easy, as Ebay is really user friendly! To fund my purchases, I decided to use Ebay's PayPal service and I signed up for an account. Basically, I gave them my credit card number on a secure web page and chose a user name and password for my account. When I make a purchase, PayPal does an electronic transfer to the seller and charges my credit card. The seller never sees my credit card number. Also, there is no charge for this service to the buyer. However, the seller pays a small fee to PayPal for the transaction.

Well, back to my story. I ended up placing several bids for the cat pin. It was between me and another bidder who seemed to really want the item. In fact, he or she had previously bought a number of the necklaces made by Andre and some of her personal jewelry. This person was either a serious fan collector or some sort of Sci-Fi business owner. Well, I decided to stop fooling around and plotted a strategy. I knew that the auction would end at a specified time. So, I decided to enter my maximum bid a few seconds before the end of the auction and hope that it was more than Mr. or Ms. Collector Pants was willing to pay. A few minutes before the end of the auction, I started a stop watch to time my final bid. One minute before the end, I entered the bid. The next step was to confirm the bid. I waited until there was 20 seconds left and then pressed confirm. It takes about five seconds for this to go through. I waited tensely and then got a screen saying I was the high bidder and that there were about ten seconds left until the end of the auction (I know, my timing was a bit off :) ). I waited, nervously expecting the other bidder to jump in with a higher bid. After ten seconds, I checked and found to my delight that I had won the auction! I used Ebay's simple checkout procedure which took me to my PayPal account and I paid for the item along with the seller's shipping charge. I exchanged a couple of friendly emails with Sue Stewart regarding the item and, about a week later, it arrived in the mail. I keep the pin next to my computer and look at it occasionally while wondering if this pin might have inspired any of Andre Norton's stories...

In the past two months, I have bought a number of old structural engineering books, which are of great interest to me considering my engineering education and work experiences. Below is a picture of one of the books. This book, published by the Bethlehem Steel Company in 1934, lists all of the various structural steel sections, like I-Beams for example, that the company manufactured at that time, along with various information intended to aid an engineer in the design of a steel structure. Today, this sort of book is very useful to engineers who work to rehabilitate old buildings. I have done some of that sort of work in the past and found those projects to be some of the most interesting things that I did as an engineer.

This next picture is of a very large and heavy old bench vice that I bought. I have no idea how old it is, but it I suspect that it could easily date to when my grandparents were young! I constructed my own work bench a few years ago and I had been thinking for some time that every good work bench needs a good vice. Well, this vice is one of the largest and heaviest that I have ever seen and, despite its age, it is still in very good working condition. It really is true that there was a time when things were just made right! Actually, I did a bit of research on the internet and found a few newly manufactured vises that are just as big as this old one. However, they cost about four times what I paid and probably wont last half as long! So, I am quite satisfied with the deal that I found.

So far, I have been quite pleased with my Ebay experiences. It is easy to tell if the sellers are reputable. Ebay provides a system whereby buyers and sellers can leave feedback on any given transaction. All this feedback is accessible to any Ebay user, buyer or seller. Thus, a buyer can see what previous buyers thought of a particular seller, and a seller can see what previous sellers thought about a particular buyer. It is really an excellent way to do business and I can certainly highly recommend it! It is very interesting to see that Ebay has grown into a worldwide business. I have seen items offered for sale in Canada, England, France, Germany, and Australia. I am sure that a number of other countries are involved, as well. Many sellers say that they will ship their items anywhere in the world. I have no doubt that Ebay is going to continue to grow into a true worldwide market place. I think that I may have to invest in Ebay, and the sooner the better! :)


Anonymous Manuela said...

David, hi again, I'm glad you have a new post :) I can't wait to read it, but I can't do it right now, since I'm at my aunt's, visiting; I'll drop by again, soon, I hope. Until then, I like your pictures and the cat :)
Take care :)

6/13/2005 1:36 PM  
Blogger maas said...

hi david I post the answer and a new puzzle .I hope U can know it

6/14/2005 11:12 AM  
Blogger Jamak said...

Great write up, glad to see you getting the full benefits of e-bay.

6/14/2005 1:17 PM  
Blogger Khodadad said...

LOL David! I can see your fascination with Ebay. I was never quite addicted to it, but I remember a time when I used to check it out regularly. I mainly bought Tintin and Asterix memorebilia (I am a serious collector of those things) and coins (mainly Medieval/Late Antique coins of Iran). On these things, sometimes you do find great deals.

BTW, did you know that the founder of Ebay, Pierre Omidiar, is Iranian?

6/14/2005 5:07 PM  
Blogger David said...

Manuela, I understand that you are in Romania now. How are things there? Have fun at your aunt's house. :)

Maas, I will check out your new puzzle, but your last two were pretty hard! :)

Jamak, I should write a sequel about the frustrations of Ebay! Several times I have had things bid right out from under me! Oh well, there is always something new.

Khodadad, I did not know who the founder of Ebay was. That is very interesting! Do the people in Iran have access to Ebay auctions or did you buy your items while living outside of Iran? I used to collect Marvel Comics, mostly "The Incredible Hulk". I have a drawer full of them. Maybe I will look on Ebay for some more. Hmmm, this habit is getting a bit expensive! I may have to start selling stuff on Ebay to raise some cash! :)

6/14/2005 8:51 PM  
Anonymous koozeh said...

I really like that cat too! really interesting ebay story :)

6/14/2005 10:10 PM  
Blogger Dalia Mohammed said...

Very nice cat.

You have a nice blog.

take care,


6/15/2005 4:45 AM  
Blogger Khodadad said...

David: I am not sure if people in Iran have access to the Ebay. I would be skeptical if they could trade in it or whether people could actually ship stuff to Iran that easily.

I have not lived in Iran since the beginning of the age of internet. So, I have never bought stuff off Ebay while I was in Iran!:)

6/15/2005 6:41 PM  
Blogger David said...

Koozeh, I'm glad you liked it. That cat is pretty cool! :)

Thank you Dalia! :)

Khodadad, perhaps the fact that Ebay is an American company would prevent it from doing business in Iran at this time. It sure as hell didn't stop Halliburton, though! It seems that Pierre Omidiar would want to extend Ebay into Iran at some point, being Iranian, and also considering that many Ebay connected European countries do a lot of business with Iran.

6/16/2005 1:54 AM  
Blogger Jamak said...

People trade on E-bay from inside Iran, they use Paypal for transacting and a 3rd party postal address. All this about not trading with America is a bunch of non-sense. How come themn the Mullahs have been given permission to set up polling stations across US tomorrow?

6/16/2005 1:53 PM  
Blogger David said...

Jamak, I heard something about a voting site in Manhattan for the Iranian election, but I have not heard about all over the U.S. Please give me a link to this news, I would like to read more. Thanks.

6/17/2005 1:53 AM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Things are good, thanks for asking, and for your wishes, but I haven't been so good :) I've had a terrible cold for the past few days, now I'm feeling better, but still recovering :) So the visit to my aunt has been longer than I thought :) Well, change of air, climate, you know.
I've finally read your post :) E-bay is interesting, indeed, I'm surprised you haven't used it until now. The cat looks aristocratic :)
Knowing that you like figthing for good causes, I thought about sending you this link where you can e-mail Bush to ask him end world poverty.

6/17/2005 11:41 AM  
Blogger Jamak said...

David< I'm sure there are news sources you can obtain this information from knowing that you're an avid fan of the World Wide Web. For starters, bbc and cbc and you can go on from there

6/17/2005 2:26 PM  
Blogger David said...

Manuela, I hope you get well soon. :) With respect to the last part of your comment, I think that you have some misconceptions about me. It really isn't my style to fight for causes. However, I do occasionally make my views known to my U.S. Senators and Representative. Also, I will sign a petition if I agree with what it says. As to world poverty, that is a very complicated socioeconomic problem. Unfortunately, I very much doubt that Bush could do much to alleviate the suffering of the world's poorest people even if he wanted to, which he obviously doesn't. Personally, I think that the most significant factor in the continuation and worsening of poverty is humanity's seeming inability to stop or even slow its exponential population growth. There are simply too many people and not enough resources for all of them to live comfortably. I could discuss this issue at some length. Perhaps I will give it more room in a future post.

6/18/2005 12:26 AM  
Blogger maas said...

Hi david I read you post but I took alonge time to finish it because I need to translation some words any way nice post, and I think that you like the old things like the cat I think it is an old piece

6/18/2005 1:34 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Maas, thank you for your comment. I feel honored that you took the time to translate and understand my post! :) You are right, I do like old things. It seems to me that many old things were much better made than new things. I think the cat is an old piece also. Maybe someday I will be able to find out more about it.

6/19/2005 12:42 AM  
Blogger Pantea said...

Hi David,
I finally got the chance to read this post. very interesting especially the bidding story. I couldn't wait to hear the end!

6/21/2005 9:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Pantea,
I am glad that you enjoyed my story. :) Thanks for visiting.

6/22/2005 11:54 AM  
Blogger Jack Bennett said...

David, I know what you mean about Ebay. Once you buy one thing from it, you find yourself buying all sort of things. I just bought a vintage leather bomber for $35 (and thats with shipping), a newer one that looks similar but is of inferior quality cost me $70 just last year! I've also been amazed at the number of out of print books one can find there for a decent price. PayPal works great as well - it just goes on your credit card just as if it was bought from a store. With Ebay and Amazon to choose from I don't think I buy any books, videos or CDs in an actual store any more.

6/22/2005 6:57 PM  
Blogger Sima said...

Dear David,
Your are quite a bidder! I really like that cat pin. It's very elegant.
I am so sorry it took me this long to read your post. Between the deadlines and the elections, I feel like I've been running after my tail endlessly. I am going to vote again this Friday. Hard choice, but quite necessary if one considers the disasterous possibility of Ahmadinejad's presidency.
I wish we could bid that monkey away on the e-bay... Bush and him are a match made in heaven!

6/22/2005 9:33 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hello Jack,
Thanks for visiting. Internet auctions and shopping have certainly changed the retail landscape! I think that as more time goes by, traditional stores will find it difficult to survive if they don't have an internet sales presence. Ebay is really great as it directly connects buyers and sellers, eliminating all the middle men/women who take a cut of traditional business sales. Of course, the USPS, UPS, and FedEx are really cashing in!

Dear Sima,
Your comments are worth waiting for. :) The cat pin seems to be quite popular. I must have good taste in jewelry! :) I hope that Rafsanjani will win the election runoff. He's a crook, but he is certainly better than the alternative! If he gets the job, I hope he has the guts to stand up to the so called "Guardians" and press for continued moderation.

6/24/2005 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Thanks for your wishes and sorry for the misunderstanding. Again, I don't have much time right now, but I will visit again. Until then, all the best.

6/26/2005 2:32 AM  
Blogger ng2000 said...

Valuable resource of ebay news summaries:

9/19/2008 1:50 AM  
Blogger charles said...

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

1/06/2010 5:05 AM  
Blogger Abass said...

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

1/09/2010 1:45 AM  

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