Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving & Black Friday


First let me say, I love Thanksgiving. Its a rare occasion that all of my family is at the same place at the same time. And the food, lots of food. I love food. Turkey is awesome.
This year, after dinner, I decided to spend a few hours doing what I do best, absolutely nothing. I joined my brother in his tradition of waiting in line, 3pm-5am. For all of you mathaletes out there, that's 14 hours. The first two hours dragged, we set up our tent in front of Best Buy and then waited in the car listening to NPR. After a few hours though we started to mingle. I love strangers. The crowd was quite diverese. There were Indians, a few Turkish men(yes, they were from Turkey waiting in line on Thanksgiving, ironic, I think so) 3 Russian tourists, a pregnant lady who sat in her SUV the entire time, a couple of college students, a children's pastor, and a crazy Puerto Rican.

That Puerto Rican guy was quite the character. "Do you want to hear another racist joke?" He would say in his broken Manhattan accent. "No, no, no more." I would say, and then he would tell another. "This ones not that bad," he would chuckle. I truly believe that he was waiting in line because he was just bored and wanted a captive audience. He was a truck driver and had his Mac parked on the side. Whenever he got bored or hungry he would just head back to his vehicle where he had all of the amenities of home.

The guy in front of us had a tent but he was nowhere to be found. That is unless you knocked on the door of his trailer that was parked next to the Puterto Rican's Big rig. In front of him were the Turks and then the pregnant lady. Leading the pack was another set of brothers. They claimed that they have done this for 3 years and were number one and two last year also. Behind us were 4 Indians who would disappear from the line for extended periods of time.

My favorite people however (my brother excluded) were numbers 14, 16, & 17. Number 14 was a young fellow from Michigan. He was in town with his crew delivering Yellobook Yellow pages to the tri-state area. I realized his dedication to the plight of the Yellow book when I saw that instead of a chair he was sitting on a stack of Yellobooks, ingenious I say. He was saving up money from his job so that he could afford to go to Bible college. The Michigan man was a Children's pastor, what are the chances? 16 & 17 were young ladies from UC and Xavier and I really believe that the line was God ordained because between the 5 of us we had some awesome conversations about God and what it means to have a relationship with him. And, we played Scrabble, my brothers idea of course. The picture is from the chanel 5 News site. In the end I bought 7 computers and Phil bought about the same. I had a sleep deprived blast and would do it again. So, if you want to buy a laptop let me know.

(pictured left to right: Crazy Funny Pureto Rican Man, Quite fellow, Me and Phil, College Girls, Russian Tourist... strangers)

(the electronics)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

eBAy Selling Tips #1 - What is my Item Worth

eBay, the perfect way to make some fast, fat cash. People will buy anything that you list for copious amounts of money, right? Not quite. There is a lot of money to be made but there is a method to the madness. I've learned plenty of do's and don't over the last 9 years of selling and now I give them to you. 5 tips for selling on eBay #1 - What is My Item Worth.

1) Don't believe collector guides. The values are generally greatly inflated. You usually won't get much more than 50% of book value. (some exceptions may apply)

2) Do your research. Search for the item that you want to sell under completed listings on eBay. If 10 people couldn't get $5 for the same item that you have then there is no point in your making the same mistake. However, you may find that your item is worth much more than you expected.

3) If you can't find your item under completed listings than it is no doubt rare and worth a ton of money. Um, or its junk and everyone but you knows that but you. Try googling your item. This can be a tedious and time consuming activity. Reseraching the value of an item using Google is very hit or miss.

4)If your item proclaims on the box that it is a collectors item, it probably isn't worth collecting, buying, or selling. (once again, a few exceptions may apply)

5) Collecting trends change as does the market for those items. Just because your item was worth $100 last year doesn't mean it is worth $1 this year. (your not going to retire off of your POGS or Beany Baby collections)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Random Thoughts as of Late

Random thought that I've had recently. These are my thoughts. Normally they would stay inside my head where they belong but alas I wrote some of them down. I also have deep thoughts. These are not those thoughts.

- I wonder if anyone has ever been poisoned by an Oreo?
- I can't fit 10 frozen pizzas in this shopping basket, its impossible!
- How many times are they going to play the iCarley movie on this station and why am I watching it again?
- Oh dear lord, pull your shirt down, no one wants to see you itch that thing.
- Why is it that if you drink cold water and you have gum in your mouth it gets all hard.
- These little paper ribbons in Hersey Kisses are useless. They don't help me open them at all.
- trebuchet, trebuchet, trebuchet, trebuchet, trebuchet, why am I thinking the word trebuchet over and over and over again.
- What do you mean there's a chance of snow flurries throughout the day. Look out the window you morons, its snowing right now.
- Wow, these M&Ms have very nice colors.
- Lollypop, lollypop, lollypop, lollypop, pop
- The cookie package is clear, the nutritional information is black and the cookies are black. What genius came up with this color scheme?
- Wow, if I eat 9 packages of these cookies that's 2000 calories.
- I wonder how many packages I could eat in one day, I have 45 packages. Hmmmm better not.
- That fart smells like egg salad, ha ha ha. Hmmmm I think I will eat egg salad when I get home.
- Wow, all I typed was "How long to" and Google knew that I was going to type "How long to boil an egg, genius."
- Man my fart stinks, what in the world did I eat last night? Oh yea, egg salad.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Slim Down with Dan

The other day someone told me that they were curious as to what kind of food I had in my freezer. My slim (but manly) figure is no doubt a product of my strictly regimented diet. So, here are some pictures of what I have in my freezer, on my counter and in my cabinets.

In my freezer we have 17 pizzas, 19 microwave meals, pizza rolls, sausages, lot of ice cream and a bunch of other ultra healthy all organic food products. My counter contains a 100 box of Slim Jims, a 48 pack of Andy Capps Hot Fries, a 45 variety pack of cookies and crackers and a few dozen pickled sausages. My counter contains around 16,530 calories of pure energy, grrrr. There would be a lot more energy but my 100 pack of Slim Jims is down to 25%. My cabinets have a good variety of candy, sauerkraut, hot dog chili and corn beef hash.

So, now you know the secret to my slim (but manly) figure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wana Race?

I'm a graphic designer and I work in a sign shop. Yea, I know what your probably thinking. "Wow you must lead the life of danger and intrigue." Well, your wrong. Once in a blue moon I do get to photoshop a grotesque mole off of someones face but thats only on a good day. Up to this point the most exciting thing that has ever happened here is when the Subway next door caught on fire. That was kind of invigorating. Ickey Woods has come in a few times but he never did the shuffle. Today however was a bit different. Today we had an Olympic Gold Medalist order some posters. Believe it or not this is the first Olympian that we've had in our store. Her name was Mary Wineberg and she won gold in the Womens 4 x 400m Relay. Why is having an Olympian in the store exciting for me? I'm not sure why, but it was so shut up. My mind is obviously that of an 8 year old because immediately I thought to myself, "Hey want to race around the building," and "next time you come in can you bring your gold medal?" So anyhow, thats where the story ends, we didn't race and I don't have her gold medal for sale on eBay. Other than me, who's the most exciting person that you've met.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am Becoming Wiser Everyday.

Its been said that as humans we are continually learning. Everyday is an opportunity to ad to our ever growing wealth of information and wisdom. Actually I just made that up but it sure sounds like something that someone smart once said.

Lesson #1: If you wait in line at a Thrift Store and only buy one solitary butter knife for a grand total of 13 cents, people think your funny.
"Just one butter knife huh. You looked through all those knives and decided that you just needed one butter knife?"
"Yep just one" I smiled.
"Do you want a bag for your butter knife?"
"Na, I'll just put it in my pocket," I quipped.
"No, your a paying customer, you get a bag" she chuckled.
Who knew that a single butter knife could be so humorous, huh. Everyone seemed to get a good kick out of it though. Maybe I don't like butter very much, huh, did you ever think of that? Maybe I'm trying to cut the fatty portion of milk out of my diet by just owning one butter knife.

Lesson #2: Why pray tell did I just buy one butter knife? Truth be known I do enjoy butter. I bought that butter knife because it was marked nickel silver. A silver knife for 13 cents sounds like a deal and a half to me. Ok, now for the lesson. Nickel silver as it turns out is a misnomer. It isn't silver at all. According to google its just a unholy mixture of copper, zinc and nickel. Nickel silver is a poser, a knock off. Stupid mongrel metal butter knife. I wonder if I can return it and get my 13 cents back.

I leave you with a comic that I drew years ago.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Epic Zip Line

My friends are crazier than your friends. Today I did "the zip line" again. The zip line is the brainchild my dear friend Todd with the help of his zip line minion Eric. Actually I'm not sure which one of them is the minion, I think they take turns. The zip line evolved in its set up so fast that it would make Darwin blush. It's original stopping mechanism was, well, it didn't have one. You went from full speed to a complete stop. Then came the mattresses, and the stoppers on the line and finally the bungee cords. The bungee cords were originally added as a stopping mechanism but quickly transformed into their current state of dual polarity. The budgie cords now launch you down the line at Mach 3 speed, bring you to a complete stop and then fling you backwards. We then discovered that if the person doing the zip line holds onto the tree, two more friends can pull the other end of the budgie cords to increase the speed of the take off. And that is why my friends are crazier than your friends.

Zip Line + Bungie Line = Awesome from Dan Thoms on Vimeo.

This is one of the original test runs with Eric.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Auction Stories

For those of you who don't know the inner workings of my life, I am an eBay Power Seller. I've been a dealer for 9 years with my younger brother Phil. We buy my stuff at local auctions and resell them online. I make so much money that I had to buy a shovel to push it all to one side of my living room (ok that part isn't 100% factual). Because of these local auctions I've had the opportunity to meet and befriend dozens of interesting folks, mostly dealers (antiques, not drugs). With people come stories. Here are some snidbits of today's stories. (for clarifications sake these are stories that were told to me, not my stories)

1) I go to public storage auctions. When people don't pay their bills they sell their stuff. Did you know that some people run small businesses out of those storage units? I remember one unit in particular. It was filled with dozens of small animal cages, mostly rabbits, dead rabbits. All of the animals were dead, dehydration. The owners didn't pay their bill and just let the animals die. Needless to say, no one bid on that unit. There was one unit at that place that only had one thing in it. It was a single, locked, chest. The owners of the storage facility kept holding off on selling it. By law they weren't allowed to open it. The FBI ended up seizing it though. It was full of over $100,000 in cash.

2) Me and my husband used to be the care takers for Buddy Larossa's (Cincinnati pizza mogul) mansion. He never lived in it, we did. The house was previously owned by the Catholic Archdioceses and was occupied by the Archbishop and nuns, the Sisters of the Blood. When the Archbishop died, they sold the place. I'm not sure what happened to the nuns but Buddy used to take us and them and us out to eat so that we could talk about the intricacies to caring for the estate. It was a very strange place to live. Buddy was a nice guy but a bit paranoid. It was the 70's an he had spent $350,000 on this house. He would sometimes call us to tell us things like, "I just had a dream that someone broke into the music room! Is everything ok there?" After 5 years we had to get out of that place.

3) Remember that painting that I paid $1,200 for a few weeks back. I'm putting it in Cristies Auction. It should sell for about $20,000.

4) This market is killing me. I have over $50,000 in scrap (gold, sliver, platinum, $50,000 in tin would be quite a lot of metal) that I didn't sell quick enough and now the market is soft.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Get What I Want!

A new Hasselblad 50 Megapixel camera, a 65" BeoVision 4 tv, a Prius or perhaps a Wii, these are the things that most people dream of. Not me, I've been known to say that if I got a widescreen tv I would have to reconfigure my entire living room and that's too much work. The things that I dream about are not normal, not typical. I wanted the bells out of the church down the street. I wanted its steeple topper and its wrought iron fence. I should throw in here that the church was 4 doors down, 100 years old, and now its gone. They tore it down. I don't just ravage churches for fun. Well, they sold the bells and I didn't steal the steeple topper fast enough. The fence was a different story though. They destroyed most of it with their giant claw machine (ok, so claw machine isn't exactly the technical term). However, 16 feet of it survived. There it sat, at the side of the demolition site, teasing me for days. 16 feet of beautiful, 100 year old wrought iron fence.

This morning, on my way to work, I saw it. The lot was clear and all that was left was the fence. It was just sitting there on the sidewalk beckoning me. I had to have it and turned my car around. Sure, it would make me a little lait for work but this was my dream we're talking about here. Only one minor problem. Apparently 16 feet of wrought iron weighs approximately twice as much as I do (you wise guys better not say that that's only like 200lbs). I couldn't lift it so I dragged it, caveman style. Every few feet I would have to stop to catch my breath. By the time I got it to my yard I thought I was going to die. The experience left me wheezing for 45 minutes. My hands hurt, I could barely walk, but it was worth it. After work I managed to drag my fence from my front yard into my basement and there she sits, 16 feet of metal, my trophy, my lovely fence.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Miracles for Sale - 2 for $20

I went over my parents house tonight and my Dad and me watched tv. There wasn't much on but we enjoyed a rerun of the Antique Road show. My Dad insisted on flipping to the TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) telethon during the commercial breaks. He says that he does it just to aggravate himself. "God says that in order to receive your healing you need to take a step of faith. You need to plant a seed. Just call us, even if its just $20 a month, take that step of faith." It was as if they were selling miracles.

It was disturbing, it was disappointing, it was disillusioning, it was disgusting. What happened? When did it become ok to pimp out God? I'm torn. On the one hand I want to believe that these people are sincere but sadly misled. On the other hand I feel that perhaps they are B rate movie actors who just found a great paying gig. You can buy 950 people shoes for the price of one Christian cruise. Is it a sin to spend money? No, but where is the line? At what point do we become a church of fat, self serving, poser Christians?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend O' Kids

This weekend was packed full of kids, lots and lots of kids. Friday night I had the opportunity to be a chaperon at a church youth event. Chaperon is a fancy French word that means I ate pizza, played games in the dark and tried to prevent any of the teenagers from sustaining any serious or permanent injuries. As it turns out, capture the flag isn't one of my strong suits. I spent the majority of my time in jail. Little girls kept having to rescue me from my imprisonment. I do realize that the implication here is that I play capture the flag worse then a little girl. I was slightly better at sardines but I'm certainly no sardines Olympian. Truth be known, I never found the hiders during the second game.

Saturday, and twice on Sunday, I taught kids church. Pastor Jim was suffering from a bad case of the flue so I filled in for him. What can I say, I love teaching kids church. I however, do not love watching the same Veggie Tales video 3 times in a row. By the last service I'm pretty sure that I had the majority of the lines memorized. "Some matches are made in heaven and some are made in a phosphorus factory but they all require a little bit of chemistry." I was the only person who laughed at that line. Apparently chemistry jokes aren't all that funny to little kids.

Before the second service, after hearing that Jim would not be there, one of the mothers looked at me and quipped, "Are you as good as Jim?"

"I, um, am similar to Jim. I'm high energy," I stuttered. I was not expecting to be asked that question.

"I was just wondering," she quickly replied, "I've never seen you before."

I must admit, that took me a bit off guard. When the service was over though, her kids were smiling and so was she. All is well that ends well.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Deal Breaker

Ok, this is my last political blog. I've gotten called out on the carpet for this multiple times in the last week so I thought I would try to clarify one of my political stances. For your amusement and entertainment, I am going to do this with an allegory.

There once lived a man named Dan who lived in a world of wonder and whimsy. Also living in that same land were two lovely maidens. Ok, they weren't both lovely but they weren't the most horrendous things ever created either. Both of these ladies wanted Dan, they wanted him bad. So, like any good person, Dan decided to causally date each one of them and judge them based on their individual merits. The first lady was rather ugly. Dan wished that it were a blind date so that he didn't have to look at her face. After talking to her however, he realized that they did have a few things in common but that didn't exactly improve her ghastly appearance. She was 72 years old and ugly as sin. The second women was a bit better looking. In fact, you might even say that she was attractive. Her skin was soft, her body hard, she had a great smile, and she was popular. So, Dan talked to her. She was quite pleasant to listen to. Her words were like a crisp breeze through a flowing meadow. She spoke for hours before saying "and I have one more thing to tell you,". Dans ears perked up, "Go ahead he said," eagerly anticipating her reply. "I used to be a man." Shocked Dan stood up and left the room in a hurry. His friends tried to encourage him to go back in and give her a second change. "She's nice, good looking, pleasant to listen to and what a great smile." they quipped. "I understand that," Dan replied "But she used to be a man! That my friends is what you call a deal breaker."

Some things in life are deal breakers. For me that issue is abortion. I will not vote for someone who is for the killing of innocent children. I understand all the if ands and buts a deal breaker is a deal breaker. I won't date a girl who used to be a man and I won't vote for someone who is pro-abortion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I've become increasing agitated with the way that President Elect Obama is being described both by the media and by his supporters. He's black. I understand this. I am quite aware of what color his skin is and quite frankly I just don't care.

Growing up there was absolutely no racism in my house. In my mind racism is the height of human ignorance. Until I was 9 I lived in a neighborhood where I was the minority. Americans seem to think that they have somehow achieved something great by electing a black man as president. Everyone is patting themselves on the back. The world is rejoicing that we've become so much more open minded. Open minded? In my mind true progression would be if we elected a black man and he was celebrated because of his achievements and the color of his skin wasn't even an issue. When Kennedy was elected did every news article describe him as the first Catholic president? Obama will be our next president and that is an incredible achievement and I respect that. Its just disturbing to me to think that there are people who would or wouldn't vote for a candidate based purely on their race. Both are equally ignorant stances to take. Its sad to me to know that here are people who didn't vote for Obama just because he is black. Its also sad to know that there are people who voted for him just because he is black. Why can't Obama just be the president? What do you think? Am I looking at this wrong?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spiritual Entrepreneurs

Since I was a the ripe old age of 6 days old, I've gone to church. Every week, two or three times a week, I was there. I've known thousands of church people, perhaps even more. Sadly though, I found that it was rarity to find someone who was proactive in their Christian walk. To minister on their own, without the direct blessing of the church, was almost a taboo.

Its not like that at the Vineyard Westside. I never cease to be amazed and inspired by the followers of Christ that surround me every week. I know one man who, every day, finds at least one homeless person and gives him lunch, every single day without fail. He does this, not because someone told him that he should, but because he feels that that's what God wants him to do to impact Cincinnati. He asked God, "How can I impact this city?" and he was willing. I have friends who gave away pumpkins, gobs and gobs of pumpkins. Who bought all of these pumpkins, where was the budget? The budget was the cash in their pockets. Or there's my nutty friend who bought a limo for the express purpose of taking kids to church. Most of my friends have gone on mission trips. Two even sold most of their worldly possessions and went to Canada for a year. This week another one of my friends is leaving for a year to serve in Nepal. When the churches budget committee said we just don't have the money to do a Halloween outreach our childrens pastor said we'll do it anyways. And the money came, and the volunteers came, and the candy was there. Too often people ask how and why when they should just be saying lead me and I will follow. I'm continually inspired by my friends, my brothers, spiritual entrepreneurs.