Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Art of the Dance - Negotiating the Price

The art of the dance, negotiating a price is an important part of what I do. This comes into play in both buying and selling. Tonight I danced as the seller. A guy drove an hour and a half from Dayton to look at bicycle that I had for sale. Since he contacted me right after I listed the bike and he came that night at 11pm to see it, I knew he was serious. This guy had obviously done a lot of dancing since he used nearly every move there is to get a lower price. The starting price was $1,100. I told him before he came that I would do $1,000 cash. He arrived and the dance began

1) Pointing out the flaws: This is usually the first and best move used in negotiating a price. I use it a lot. The light is missing, the front break doesn't work and the back wheel has a lot of pitting. Stating how much it will cost to fix the item is also important. $100 will buy a new light but how much will it will cost to fix the break is unknown. I could tell he really liked the bike so that didn't deter me. After all, he had driven 1 and a half hours to look at it.

2) I'm Already Here: Pointing out the fact that you are there and you have cash is another good strategy. The old "A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush" move. Wouldn't you rather have the cash today?

3) The other One: In this strategy you tell the seller that you are also planning on looking at another similar item. This let's the seller know that you have choices. In this instance he told me that he was planning on looking at a similar bike that was museum quality and only cost $200 more. This didn't work because his story had holes. At first he told me that the other bike was a 1947 and later said it was a 1952. He also told me that the owner owned a bicycle museum. This was also an indicator that he was bluffing because if the owner had such a vast knowledge of bicycles than he would know that one in the condition that he was talking about would be worth over 2 grand.

4) I Don't Have a Lot of Money to Spend: Pointing out that this purchase will significantly impact your finances and you only have a limited amount of cash can sometimes help in the negotiation. I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't buy something that has this kind of affect on your finances so this one doesn't work with me.

5) I Have Kids: This is a last ditch effort. This buyers kids were sleeping in the car. He said that his family may be eating bologna for a while after this purchase. I said that didn't sound so bad.

6) Meeting in the Middle: Giving up on the lower price and agreeing to up your offer to half of the difference. This one worked and I sold it to him for $925.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Moth Presents Edgar Oliver: Apron Strings of Savannah

I first saw this gentleman as a customer in the store Obscura on the show Oddities. Oddities is one of my favortie shows on tv and I found this gentleman to be quite facinating. So after a bit of seraching I found this performance that he did at the Moth. This is a 16 minute long video but I found it to be quite fantastic.

Friday, May 27, 2011

13 and Tattooed

Although I may look like a throw back version of a Rock and Roll drummer from the 80s, I have none of the typical marks associated with such. I've always felt that getting a tattoo was just too big of a commitment. I'm not opposed to them but I have no desire to get one myself.

In my opinion, if an adult gets a tattoo that is their business. Until just last week I assumed that adults were the only people who had tattoos or at least professionally done ones. I assumed that teenagers with more time than sense did on occasion give themselves prison style tattoos hidden in discrete locations never to be discovered by their parents. Small and badly done they would most likely fade with time. And of course I've known plenty of teenagers with piercings. Some with holes in their lips others their eyebrows and plenty more with various size gaps adorning their ear lobes but never professional tattoos.

But that all changed when I recently attended an 8th grade graduation. There I saw multible kids with professionally done tattoos. The girl sitting in front of me looked to be 16 and had nearly her entire leg covered in brightly covered artwork. Even more surprising than that though was one of the kids in the graduation class, an 8th grader. He had a series of large stars going up his neck. 13 and tattooed? It seems a bit crazy to me. How young is too young to get a tattoo?

Monday, May 23, 2011

And the punch line is... eBay Seller Support

Here is the later part of the transcript:

Melissa O.

We really do appreciate your loyalty , if you feel this policy violation is incorrect you will need to reply back to the email we have sent you in your eBay messages.

Our trust and safety team will review it , and get back with you on their decision.


Why do I need to do that when I am talking to you and you are part of the VERO department

Melissa O.

I apologize I am not the VERO dept. < i handle all prohibited items taken off our site.

They do have another area , but do not take Live Chats at this time.

That is why you will need to write into them


Oh I know, VERO is the only departent that can make decisions yet they are not available via chat or via the phone. The only way to contact that them is through eMail and it takes 48 hoursto get a reply. By the time you talk to them it's been a full week and the restriction is lifted. I've been a member for 11 years, I am quite aware of how things work. Does that sound accurate to you?

Melissa O.

Great! I am very grateful you do understand our process and can understand why we have policys in place. We have an operation to follow about the procedures we have to follow and guidelines. I do hope you can respect where we as a company is coming from. Correct.


Wait, are you kidding me? You agree that the only department that can make decisions is purposely made virtually impossible to communicate with?

Melissa O.

I understand your concern ,i do apologize that i cannot help you any further than i can at this point, if i could i would. Sorry about that . i will forward on your comments to a supervisor and have this addressed.


Everytime I've had a concern forwarded to a supervisor I was not contacted. Who can I speak to who has the authority to have my selling reinstated via chat or the phone.

Melissa O.

One moment , i will get you a phone number to our Customer support .

Call us at 866-907-3229.
For faster service use the following PIN: ####### (expires in 15 mins)


and when I call this number will I be connected to a representive who has the authrity to reenstate my selling. in the past I've been transfered 3 or 4 times and after talking to each person they pawned me off to the next person because they couldn't help me

Melissa O.

Sorry about the trouble , yes they are specifically trained to help you with this concern.


And what department will I be speaking with.

Melissa O.

this is our main customer support , if they cannot address , they have the ability to get you to a representative that can.

Well i'd thank you for contacting eBay live Chat today! Daniel Please feel free to click on the "exit" when you are ready to close. I hope You can get this resolved quickly. You Have a great rest of your day!


I already talked to them and they told me to talk to you.

I am not interested in ending this chat.
Please transfer me to someone who can resolve this issue.

Melissa O.

Ok , daniel i have given you all the information i can , at this point i cannot lift the restriction as much as i would like to. You will need to take the VERO tutorial i informed you about earlier , that is the first step in processing your selling lift.

Sorry i cannot transfer you from Chat.

Unfortunately , you would need to disconnect and come back!


Come back to where or who?

I did take the VERO tutorial. I did it while I was talking to you. No offense but it had absolutely nothing to do with selling autographs.

Melissa O.

You would log back in , go to contact us , live chat to get a representative , but they will be giving you the same information as i have.

Not sure on who that will be.


How would talking to someone else in the same department be helpful?

Melissa O.

I can see this is very frustrating today, i do wish you the best on our site, you do a great job as a seller, and i think we have come to an impass. i will need to disconnect this chat. You have a good day! i really hope this gets resolved for you quickly. Thanks for contacting eBay live chat!

Melissa O. has left this session!

The session has ended!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Feel the Burn

I admit, I don't often push myself physically. I move but I don't move much. Today was another story all together. My brother Phil called me a few weeks back to tell me that he had entered us in a scavenger hunt where the grand prize was a car. I wouldn't mind having a new car, I like games, and I like my brother so I was excited. The game started at the Great American Ballpark downtown and used an app to lead you to locations all over the city where you answer questions.

I'm not in quite as good of shape as my brother but I am happy to say that for the most part I kept up. For two hours we ran, up and down the streets of Cincinnati. I felt like death. I had blisters on my feet and my legs burned. I was breathing hard but still I ran. Clue after clue after clue and when it was all over we knew that we didn't win. We could have, if we would have made a couple of changes to our strategy early on but still, we were confident that we at least placed top 10%. That is until after it was all over and we sat down in the stadium to eat. The team next to us told us how many points they had and it was a lot. They weren't the most in shape couple of people and yet they claimed that they had beat us by a significant amount. If they had beat us than I was pretty confident that a lot of people had beat us.

Well, they lied. We demolished them and out of the over 250 teams we placed 9th. For all of you math nerds that's top 3%. So, no we didn't win a car but I'm still very happy with how we did. As it turns out despite eating junk food and not exercising, I'm it fairly good shape. We Thoms hustle and we hustle hard. I'm proud of us.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Van Celebrates Opposite Day

It was early in the morning and I was on my way to an auction. This was the morning that I was going to hit it big, I may even retire. But then again I wake up every morning with that same expectation. The highway traffic was bad and I was running late but the end was in site. Just as I got in the clear my check engine light went on and I lost my power steering. I coasted off the exit, pulled over and popped my hood.

The fuel gauge showed a full tank but the oil light had blinked momentarily so I pulled out the dipstick. There was obviously something wrong because the dipstick wasn't giving me an accurate reading. I tried to remove the oil cap but to no avail. I called my Dad and he said I had better call a tow truck.

$80 later I was home. I managed to pry my oil cap off and it looked bad, it was low and there was what the experts call "mayo" in there. So, I called my dad, I searched the internet and I did a complete oil change. The car forum prophets of doom foretold a bleak future for my pretty little minivan. ,Never the less I again tried to start my van. Still nothing so for what was probably the 5th time that day I called my Dad. As he was in the middle of explaining spark plugs to me I had a moment of inspiration, a fleeting moment of pure genius. I laughed. Suddenly I knew what was wrong. Yes, my van did have a faulty part. It had a bad fule guage. Yes, for the first time in my life I had run out of gas.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Devil Wears a Beak

Squirrels, rabbits, fish, chipmunks and most other animals don't bother me. We have an understanding. I don't mess with them and they don't mess with me. Birds, however, are a different story. My problem with birds started many years ago. I lived in an apartment and behind my apartment lived a rooster. The rooster was evil incarnate and woke me up nearly every Saturday morning. Cock-a-doodle-do is much more quaint when heard in the context of Little House on the Prairie. On one occasion I became so enraged that I ran down three flights of stairs in my pajamas and chased the rooster around the parking lot. That was many years ago though so I thought that the bird world had forgiven me for threatening one of their own. I was wrong.

In front of my house there is a tiny tree and in that tiny tree lives the devil. Satan has taken the form of a bird. This is quite unusual since the Lord of Darkness generally prefers to posses snakes and other such creepy crawlers. But for me he has made an exception. I first encountered the beaked devil about a week ago. I was walking to my van when all of a sudden I heard the flutter of wings. And then, before I understood what was happening, I was pecked. I ran, I ran for my life. I could see the bird following me, flying at face level. I had seen the classic Hitchcock movie the Birds so I knew what this winged devil wanted. He wanted blood, my blood. I guarded my face with my backpack as I ran, quickly glancing behind me. When I got to the street I stopped and looked up. The bird had stopped chasing me and was now sitting on the phone line staring at me with his beady little eyes, waiting for me to let my guard down. I could see the wheels in his tiny little bird head turning. He wanted to peck my eyes out. I wanted to keep my eyes so once again I put my backpack in front of my face and slowly walked backwards to my van.

And this was no isolated event. Over the course of the next few days this evil bird would shoot out of the tree as I walked by. Sometimes he would peck me and other times he would just sit and stair, daring me to make a move. I even tried walking all the way around my house to avoided the devils lair and was met by his evil stairs as he waited for me on the other side. Recently I have noticed that the bird now has an apprentice, a smaller bird that follows him around. And now I have two birds that shoot out of the tree, startling me into a brisk sprint. I'm considering having the bird exercised but I've been unable to track down a credentialed animal exorcist. Perhaps shooting it would be a viable solution. I wonder if a regular BB would kill it or if I will need to get one made out of pure silver? I may have to do some more research before I am rid of the devil with a beak.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Homeschoolers: Sheltered and Socially awkward?

When my mom started homeschooling me in 1987, homeschooling was far from the norm. In fact, according to a 1985 Gallup poll, 73% of Americans were opposed to homeschooling. Growing up I only knew a few other kids who were homeschooled and those kids were my brother and sisters. Outside of my family I can't remember ever knowing another kid who went to school at home. According to some estimates, at that time, there were less than 50,000 homeschoolers in the US (some estimates put it as high as 200,000). By most peoples standards, my mom was one of the pioneers in the American homeschooling movement. The few people who came before us often found themselves fighting the government for the right to educate their children at home. One homeschooling family that my Mother spoke with early on had their kids taken away from them for 6 months after being charged with truancy. My mother was truly at the forefront of a powerful and exciting movement.

Being that when I was young homeschooling was still a relatively new concept people were prone to make assumptions as to what kind of people we were. As a child I was asked the same questions dozens if not hundreds of times. The three most prevalent assumptions that were made about my siblings and I were that we:
1) Were sheltered
2) Would grow up to be socially awkward
3) Wouldn't be able to make it in a "real" school.

In retrospect I'm sure that all of our naysayers are now convinced of their folly but at the time their bad logic was the prevalent point of view. All of my siblings did eventually join a "normal" school, I in 11th grade and my brothers and sisters in 9th.

Now to answer their questions. Were we all able to make friends in "normal" school? Yes. Were we able to make it academically? Yes, in fact I believe we all graduated with honors. Were we all able to make it in the real, unsheltered world? Yes, the exception being my youngest sister who is graduating from high school this year. She hasn't joined the real world yet but I'm sure she will be just fine. Did we all turn into well adjusted human beings who are intelligent and well loved? Why yes we have. And if you're still worried that our life as sheltered homeschoolers may have left us with low self esteems then perhaps your reading comprehensions skills are lacking.

I am happy to say that homeschooling and the general public's opinion of it has changed tremendously over that last 24 years. At my church alone I know 14 kids who are homeschooled and tonight I attended a homeschooling event with dozens more. Homeschooling is even offered and aggressively advertised by the public school system. Granted, 54% of Americans are still opposed to homeschooling but that is none the less a dramatic improvement. With homeschooling increasing by 7-15% every year the future of homeschooling is bright. My hope is that in the near future the majority of Americans will have a favorable opinion of homeschooling and will in turn stop asking the same ignorant questions that I endured for years. I am proud to have been a non-sheltered, socially capable, well educated homeschooler.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I pulled up to my house tonight, after spending most of the evening with my parents and siblings, when I got a text message.

As I pulled in to my parking lot I got the first one. "Are you home?"

"Yes." I typed getting out of my car

I was curious as to what the next question was going to be. As I walked up the steps to my porch my phone vibrated again and I read. "Did you get a surprise?"

As I read my phone I looked down and there it was, a bag sitting on my porch. What was it? It was a surprise, that much I knew. I tore open the bag and there it was, a cake, an awesome little green cake. My phone range. "Did you get the cake. We bought it for you because it reminded us of you with it's hair. It's for your birthday."

Never in the history of surprises has there been a better timed series of text messages and phone calls. If I didn't know any better I would have said that they were using surveillance. Surprises are so much fun. It made me smile so big I was afraid my face would split in half. I'm thinking about wearing green sunglasses and eating cake for breakfast. I lived a charmed life.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On Turning 30

It kind of snuck up on me. Being 30 is kind of strange. It's not that I actually feel any differently. I haven't suddenly developed sagging man breasts or crows feet. The only real difference is when someone asks me how old I am I have to say 30. I don't particularly love the idea but it is what it is. It has now been:
  • 30 Years since I was born
  • 18 Years Since I Graduated from Elementary School
  • 12 Years Since I Graduated from High School
  • 8 Years Since I Graduated from College
  • 2 Years Since I went to my 10 Year High School Reunion
  • 1 Year Since I quit my job
  • 30 seconds since I've had a drink of clean water.
If your reading this than you are probably sitting within 15 feet of a clean water supply. Sadly that is not the case for everyone. There are currently 1 billion people in the world who do not have access to clean water. Every 19 seconds a baby dies due to an illness related to unclean water. That's why this year for my 3oth birthday I am asking my family and friends to help me in the fight to provide clean drinking water for the world. My family has agreed to, instead of buying me presents, to donate to this awesome cause. For just $20 you can give someone the gift of clean drinking water for life. I'm not just asking you to give. I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and will be matching the first $500 that is donated by my friends and family.


Water Changes Everything. from charity: water on Vimeo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cirque Du Soleil

Have you ever seen a baby staring, eyes glazed over, fascinated by seeing a ceiling fan for the first time? That's how I felt watching Cirque Du Soleil. The only thing that I wish I could have seen is the expressions on my face because I'm quite positive that they were ridiculous. The acts defied both logic, the laws of thermodynamics and gravity. It's hard to put into words the strange and wonderful things that I saw. I'm fairly positive that if Spiderman would take off his mask and wear glittery makeup, they may give him a job. No guarantees though. This is the first time I've ever seen a group of 40 people who could all beat me in the limbo. The only down side is the price of the ticket and once you get there they punch you in the gut and make you pay and additional charge for parking. If you want a hot dog you may want to take out a second mortgage. It was worth the money though. These performers could kick Chuck Norri's butt. I'm glad I unclenched my Scrooge like hands and went to see it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why I'm a Pacifist

Grown ups don't punch people. That is unless they are criminals or they participate in some sort of sport that involves fighting. I always thought that was was a fairly logical statement but not everyone agrees with me. Under normal circumstances, if one grown up punches another, it shows a complete lack of self discipline. After all, if nothing else, it's a crime to punch someone. I believe it is refereed to as assault. Pacifist or not, it is my belief, that most people can live their entire lives and never encounter a situation that requires them to act violently.

So, now for what is apparently one of my top two most controversial beliefs. Why am I a pacifist? The simple answer is because I feel that this is how God wants me to live. It's a personal conviction. I have never insisted that everyone should take the same stand as me in living a life of non-violence. Thus, personal conviction.

The second reason is equally simple. You don't have to have doctorate in divinity to know that Jesus lived a life of non-violence. He was the author of such controversial sayings as:

"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also." (Luke 6:27-31)

I understand that these are difficult verses to take at face value. There are a million scenarios where this seems like an impractical or irresponsible way to react. If someone was taking your best friend and mentor away to be unjustly put to death you may feel inclined to defend him by force. But, if your friend was Jesus he would say, put away your sword. I believe that God is sovereign and if he wants me to live a life of non-violence than his will will be done no matter the circumstance.

This is a blog, not a thesis paper so I won't delve into this any further. Perhaps by the dictionary definition I'm a true pacifist because I'm not going to take a stand against having a military or Mud Wrestling. At it's core my pacifism only really involves two people, God and me.
So, if you would like to punch me in the face feel free. You wouldn't be the first person to do it. If you decided to do so I can assure you of two things. One I will not hit you back and two I will file assault charges.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama is Dead - Should I be Happy About This?

Osama bin laden is dead. Should this make me happy? I'm not sure if anyone's death should make me do a little dance. I remember, years ago, I won a shirt from one of the local radio stations that had Osama's face in a target. I only wore in once before I decided it was in bad taste. I understand that he was a mass murder and a terrorist but is it ever right to rejoice in someone going to hell.

The Cool Kid Commercials

There is one specific line of commercials that I despise. They are know as the "cool kid" car commercials. I understand who the target demographic for these commercials is and I hate that this demographic exist. If your not familiar with these commercials they feature a "cool kid" whose parents are "cool parents" because they bought a "cool" family vehicle. It aggravates me to no end that there are parents out there who care if their kid thinks that they are cool to the degree where they would base their vehicle buying preferences on it.

In one commercial, the kid in the cool car pulls up next to the kid in the lame care. The kid in the lame care has dorky parents who sing the same stupid song for hours on end while the kid in the cool car has a headset and his own dvd player. The kid in the cool car tells the kid in the lame car that he pities him. Really? Give me a break. This kid's parents have raise an elitist, materialist, little brat. Shame on them. Not cool.