Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Place To Rest on Halloween

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It's Halloween, which closely rivals Christmas as our favorite holiday of the year. In terms of storage boxes, Christmas is still the far and away winner with Halloween as the solid second. But we don't go crazy overboard with lawn decorations like many people do and we don't do the whole chase the kids down the street with a chainsaw bit on Halloween night. The same goes for Christmas, when we have simple white lights on the house and a wreath on the door. Our decorating goes on inside where we can enjoy it for the whole month.

One of our big traditions, which is not unheard of, but certainly not common, is the Halloween tree. Many years ago a fake Christmas tree was brought into our home, much to my horror. I will never forgo a real tree, so now we celebrate with two trees. The real tree is placed in the front room where it's sparkling lights can be seen from the street, and the fake tree hides itself in shame in the family room. For Halloween, we string it with orange lights and we have spider, skeleton, and pumpkin ornaments. A witch's hat topper completes the look. During November we keep the lights and replace the ornaments with things we are thankful for and harvest related ornaments.

And every year we host a Halloween party. We invite all of the kids in the neighborhood and the kids from church along with their families. It's a simple affair with some games for the kids and great chile for the adults. The adults can sit around, talk, and get to know each other better while the kids race through the house. The attendees always help by bringing chile, sides, and sweets. Last year we decorated with a giant spider crawling up the cathedral ceiling. This year we had witch's brooms flying around the room like the picture at the top. But then I took things a step further and decided to build a casket. That's right, I took it upon myself to build a full human size coffin for the front room.

I used 3/8 inch plywood and 2x4s and started by measuring my own dimensions, then adding at least five inches to every measuement. I measured and marked the shape and started to cut. My daughter joined in and helped while I put together the base and the frame and then cut and attached the sides and the top plate. I found the shape and natural warping of the wood made things a little complicated, but it went together after a bit of wrangling. I grabbed some piano hinges and a safety hinge off of Amazon and attached the lid. To prep the plywood so it didn't show all of the knots, cracks, and screw holes. I used drywall spackling because it is much cheaper than wood filler and it was being painted over anyway. It took a lot of spackle, but after letting it dry and sanding, it turned out very smooth. With a good coat of paint, the exterior was ready to go. During a trip to the local thrift store, I found some thick red curtains that were perfect when attached to the inside of the box with staples.

Now what to do with the inside? I could lie in wait and pop out to scare party goers, but that wouldn't allow me to be much help in hosting the party. So I went into our costume boxes and found the bloodied tux from last year's corpse bride and groom costume. I stuffed the tux and added some shoes (which made the whole thing much creepier for some reason). I found a skull on clearance at the drug store to complete the body.

 

After cutting a hole in the shirt, I inserted my daughter's iPod and attached it to an external charger tucked inside the body. After activating the Digital Dudz app which shows a beating heart or maggots, it was ready to go. The coffin was a big hit at the party, but now I need to sell it on Craigslist to recoup some of the money. And where in the world would I store a full size coffin during the rest of the year?

So if you want to buy a coffin let me know, or build one yourself from the video. And tell me what you think in the comments below!

 

A Smile in the Face of Haters

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Hopefully after reading my posts and watching the videos I embedded, you were curious and decided to go to my channel to check out my other videos. And then after being so impressed with the wisdom and information shared in the videos, you subscribed to my channel so you would never miss a video. Okay, so maybe you weren't quite so impressed. I said “hopefully” didn't I?

Adding videos and throwing them out there for public consumption has been an experience to say the least. It's fun to check in and watch the views counter rise every so slowly. I hit a hundred views! Then a thousand! People are actually watching what I made and uploaded. My videos aren't random funny moments I happened to film with my phone. They are actual projects and ideas that I decided to film and talk about, edit, and upload. Does that mean they are useful to everyone? No. I realize that and never expected otherwise.

It has been fascinating to see which videos are the most watched. You think you know which ones will garner the most interest, but you will be surprised, just as I have been. And then there are the videos that garner controversy. What in the world? No one is forcing you people to watch my video. And if you do happen to click on the monstrosity that is my attempt to teach you something you may not know, no one is forcing you to sit through it to the very end. In fact, in the sidebar, there's a whole slew of other related videos you could watch instead. It's even possible that what you think is trash could be valuable to someone else.

But alas, this is the internet after all and people love to drop nasty comments. You can say what you want to say without filters because you are sitting in your mom's basement in your skivvies drinking diet soda and petting your cat. See, I just did it! And it was so easy. I've found that most people leave constructive comments, even if it's an opposing opinion. And I've learned some valuable things from comments.

But how do you react to the haters? I try very hard to thank everyone for their comment and to very politely respond. Take the high road if you will. Everyone has the right to their opinion right? But there is one that is starting to really stick in my craw. Multiple commenters have said the same thing, given the same criticism. I pointed the first commenter to my video, where I explain my reasoning. The second I thanked for his ideas. The third I politely agreed to disagree. If there is another, I may say just what I'm thinking. Who knows. If I do, will it affect the number of subscribers. And if so, positively or negatively?

I want to avoid the anonymous arguing that the internet engenders, but when is enough quite enough? I guess we'll just have to find out won't we?

Check out my videos and leave some positive comments ;), or leave some in the comments section below.

 

Craigslist and Crossfit

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There are many places for you to sell your stuff. For years, Saturday mornings were for garage sales and flea markets. People always made sure to have cash on hand for that special find. You were restricted to local fads and fashion. If a particular item you wanted wasn't available in your area you were out of luck until the whole family jumped in the station wagon and you all took off for grandma's house. You gave yourself plenty of time to chase after those cardboard signs on the side of the road. You were hunting in new territory after all.

Flea markets were the best because all of those garage sales came to one place. The vendors did all of the work for you and brought those treasures down to local drive in. The fun was in the bargaining, the back and forth. Of course, there were always antique stores if you were rolling in it. They have everything all cleaned up and presentable, and you pay for that service all the way.

All of these methods were great, but left a big hole in your heart when you couldn't find the last piece to your full set of Garbage Pail Kids cards. After searching high and low, your collection still was not presentable to the world. Enter online auctions. Yahoo and eBay started out as fierce competitors. I actually preferred Yahoo for a long time. You could get better deals hands down. But eBay grew in popularity and simply had a much greater inventory. Yahoo slowly started to fade away as eBay became more and more popular.

You started by buying all of those things you had been searching for, and when your collection was either complete, or you were out of money, whichever came first, you decided, “Hey, I could do this! In fact, I could make a ton of money selling my sock monkey collection. Then I would have enough to really buy every Matchbox car ever made!” You posted your first item for sale. The pictures were crappy, taken with a 1.5 megapixel digital camera onto a floppy disk. You charged too little for shipping and realized it was a royal pain to guess the weight of the package without knowing where you were sending it yet.

But you learned and technology got better. You verified your Paypal account and didn't even realize that when eBay bought Paypal, you were getting double charged by the same company. Ebay's rates kept slowly creeping up, so you had to find things with high margins just to make a profit. It was great that there is pretty much a buyer for everything you have to sell somewhere in the world. There's always someone who wants to pay for your junk. You no longer have to waste entire Saturdays. But man, you wished you could actually keep more of what you were making. You realized you could just charge a ton for shipping to make up for your losses, until eBay caught on to that scheme and started charging you a percentage of shipping costs as well.

The big things were the killer. High shipping costs and high auction prices drove up eBay's percentage. Enter Craigslist. So you've once again limited yourself to one geographic area. But because you are online, your customer base is everyone in that area, not just the motivated people who are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn on weekends. You are still advertising for millions of people if you live in a populated area. And there are no fees. There are no Paypal processing fees or frozen funds because of a dispute. It's back to the old days of cash and carry.

Now enter the creep factor. You have no idea who you are meeting. Are they honest? Should you tell them where you live or meet in a public place? What if the item you are selling is too big to take to a public place? Do you want to give total strangers your phone number and address? The whole system is built on trust and unfortunatley the world is full of untrustworthy people. It's amazing actually that Craigslist has flourished and grown so much. Despite the drawbacks and uncertainty, people are adamant to look for the good and trust others. That's an awesome thing in this world.

On the other hand, you have to resign yourself to the fact people have no manners. They send rude emails. They don't show up for appointments. They try to talk you down in price even after you've agreed and driven halfway to meet them. But then the next guy shows up on time, pays without complaint, and thanks you. All is right again in Craigslist land and you go ahead and do it again.

I have begun a little side business selling jump boxes for plyo metric and Crossfit workouts. Because people want different sizes, I take orders and when it is done I email them back and set up a time for pick up. Unfortunately I have found that Craigslist buyers often have cash burning a hole in their pocket when they initially contact me. They agree on a price and the time it will take, but a week later when the box is done and I text them back, suddenly they don't respond. Or they do and say they are no longer interested. That money they had last week is long gone. Well now I have an unsold jump box that cost me time and money to build and no buyer. I have to go back and try to sell that particular size, hoping someone else wants it. And with Craigslist I can't really ask them to give me a deposit up front to keep them honest. There is no rating system that gives them confidence in my honesty. People choose to trust on Craigslist, but not enough to give me money in advance. I'm stuck selling for a customer who may or may not follow through.

It's frustrating, but I don't know that there is a solution. It seems things have gone full circle. I've got something in my garage I want to get rid of and I need to find someone local willing to buy it. Maybe I should put out a garage sale sign out on the corner.