Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not your regularly scheduled programming

"Disorder in the house
There's a flaw in the system
And the fly in the ointment's gonna bring the whole thing down."

Day three of Neil's retirement.

It's weird because suddenly I can't remember what it is that I usually do all day.

It's like I am looking at myself under a microscope, i.e., through Neil's eyes.

I decided to take off the first four days of his retirement, Thursday through Sunday. On Monday I will go back to my regularly scheduled programming. Which is anchored by beads in the morning and treadmill in the afternoon. With interruptions for bead business activities - cleaning beads, stringing beads, taking photos of beads, listing beads, invoicing for beads sold, packing beads for shippping, followed most days by a trip to the post office.

Sales have been super slow anyway. I'm still recovering from the humiliation of my last round of Bargain Box auctions. Bargain Box is the site where all listings must start at $1, and destash items may not have a buy-it-now option.

A month ago or so, I listed on Bargain Box for the first time and had a feeding frenzy of bids and buy-it-nows. Multiple people made multiple purchases, including one lady who racked up more than $300 of purchases. I also cleared a lot of older inventory, including beads I didn't love but was willing to list at a starting bid of $1 and let the chips fall wherever chips do.

Then, during election week, the site had a one-time "end-of-the-world" sale (is that an oxymoron?) and allowed sellers to set the start bids without restriction, including destash items. I did well during this sale too.

After a week off for the holidays, I started another round of listings on Bargain Box at $1. The worst case scenario materialized. Some listings sold for $1. Many listings sold for $5 or less. Nothing sold for more than $10. Worse yet, there were a lot of different buyers. I kept it going for a couple of days, hoping for a comeback, hoping for repeat business from customers who wanted to leverage shipping.

That little experiment compounded injury with insult. In the end I mailed at least 10 packages with one item that came to less than $10 including shipping. Before PayPal fees. Not counting the cost of bubble mailers, tissue paper, bubble bags, stickers, mailing labels and printer ink. Let's not even think about the cost of the trips to the post office.

One lady won three listings for $1 each. I shipped her 8 beads for $3 plus $3.50 shipping. Oh well. I made someone's day anyway. That's something.

But right now I've sworn off Bargain Box listings. I've restrung individual pairs into samplers of pairs and I've made up more sets. I've gone back to my old pricing benchmark of $3 and up per earring-size bead. Focals are back to the $20 range and up. Sales are limping but existant. I'll just keep trying because if I stop I sure won't sell anything.

Of course if there's another "end-of-the-world" sale I might list at Bargain Box again.

So, as you know, there's always more to the story, or another story. I was low on bubble mailers so I re-orded a box of 100 on Nov. 20. They were shipping Nov. 21. The expected delivery date was Dec. 1.

And because I blew through so many mailers shipping small potatoes, I used my last mailer on Nov. 30. On Dec. 1, Amazon tracking showed that "Your package was delivered. The delivery was signed by: U.S. Postal Service. Delivered 5:27 PM Sugar Land, TX, US."

Excpet I didn't have it. So yesterday, Dec. 2, I had a couple of ridiculously unsatisfying phone calls with Amazon, where I tried to make a person whose native language wasn't English understand that a refund or replacement from the third party vendor would not resolve my problem, which could only be solved if Amazon could ensure that I'd receive a replacement within no more than two days.

I even found a comparable product sold by Amazon, for a mere additional $9 plus tax. I could not persuade Amazon to price match. Amazon did email the original vendor on my behalf, but my copy via email was immediately followed by an email to the effect that "Your e-mail to [vendor] (xyz@marketplace.amazon.com) cannot be delivered because there was a problem with the recipient's email system."

That prompted my second ridiculously unsatisfying phone call with Amazon, which wound up with Amazon giving me a $5 credit for reasons unknown but I suspect probably just to make me go away and not call again. Amazon also agreed to initiate an investigation as to why the email to the vendor failed.

You may notice that I'm not naming the vendor. It's not the vendor I have a quarrel with. I've used this vendor before, they have a good product at the best pric. Delivery has never been an issue before and the problem falls squarely on the shoulders of the good old US Postal Service, God bless America.

So I hatched a new plan. I ordered the same albeit overpriced product from Amazon, with two-day Prime delivery on Sunday and the full intent to return it unopened if by chance the original order showed up by Monday. Intuition suggested it might. Once before a product designated as delivered (but not recieved) was brought over by a neighbor a day or two later.

Today, Saturday, just a little while ago, the doorbell rang. An individual from a neighboring subdivision had taken the trouble to drive over with my box. Not a neighbor living in Telfair but a person living in an adjacent subdivision called New Territory. So the expensive replacement bubble mailers will be going back. Because, beyond the righteous reasons, as slow as sales have been, I'm not sure I will need 200 bubble mailers in the upcoming months.

If I do, I'll be ordering from the same vendor. In fact, I'm half inclined to place another order now to make up for any trouble I may have caused them by complaining to Amazon.

And what do you know, in the meantime, my Amazon Prime order of Blue Buffalo cat food that was supposed to be here yesterday, is now estimated to be delivered by Dec. 6, with this little gem tagline. "We’re sorry your package is late. If it hasn’t arrived by Wednesday, Dec 7, please come back for more options."

Yeah, great. I only opted for two-day delivery in lieu of my usual choice, free no-rush delivery with a $1 credit toward digital media, because we are getting low and planning to be away overnight later in the week. But I don't have the stuffing for another call to Amazon. I'll wait and see if it actually shows up today, tomorrow or Monday.

Intuition tells me it will.

And Neil was afraid we'd run out of things to talk about once he retired. Hah!

In the meantime, he's parked in front of the television, doing paperwork.

I knew this was going to be one of the hardest things for me to adjust to - the boob tube being on all the time.

I never watch TV during the day. I do watch something on my iPad for 45 minutes to an hour while I'm walking on the treadmill. Sometimes I even finish an episode after I get off the treadmill. But that's it.

I'm not sure why it bothers me so much. Probably because I didn't grow up with a TV on all the time, as I've discovered so many people have.

No, for a long time we had one TV and it was in the basement. I think my mom would sometimes iron down there while we were at school, but if you don't count me and Dark Shadows, no one in our family ever watched the soaps. Or sitcoms. Or pretty much anything that wasn't educational or classic or the nightly news.

Later I got a little black and white TV for my room. After school I'd watch Dark Shadows at 4 pm and sometimes whatever movie came on from 4:30 to 6 pm, which was dinner time, without deviation, without fail. My dad prided himself on virtually never watching TV. He read the paper in the evenings.

Later in life, after he retired and my parents moved to a condo in Florida, he did start watching sports. There was a TV in the bedroom and in the study-guest room, but never one in the living room.

And the way we watched TV was different too. We looked at the equivalent of TV guide, which was the newspaper listings for the evening. If there was something of interest on we watched. If not, the TV stayed off.

And to this day, I will look at the on-screen guide and if there is nothing on that interests me I turn off the TV and do something else. Often I only check PBS.

Neil on the other hand is a typical channel surfer. He find something, anything to watch, often toggling between old movies, Star Trek re-runs and sports. Sometimes he will find a show that I might like, such as Buying Hawaii or a documentary on Nat Geo Wild about space exploration or the origins of the universe, and he'll TiVo it so we can watch it together and fast-forward through the commercials.

Mostly though we watch DVDs or Netflix or Amazon video. We'll alternate between several series. Right now on the menu we have Murdoch Mysteries, Rosemary and Thyme, and The Dresden Files. There are umpteen seasons of Murdoch so that will be a staple for a long time. Next up in the rotation are Life on Mars (I finally dropped the dime on the DVDs) and The Crown.

I'm going to have to reign in my judgment of Neil for turning on the TV during daylight hours. Especially on a cool, damp, gray day like today, when he'd planned to do some work in the yard. I'm sure he can - and well may - judge me for many things, including the days I don't leave the house, the time I spend on the computer (even if I am writing) and who knows what other things that make up my daily routine will annoy him. I suspect he'll do better than I will with regard to tolerance.

After all, I do have seniority on this retirement thing, while he's just a rank amateur.

And I do need to give him a lot more than three days to figure it out.

What do you think, does a month sound about right?

Disorder in the house
The tub runneth over
Plaster falling down in pieces by the couch of pain

Disorder in the house
Time to duck and cover
Helicopters hover over rough terrain

Disorder in the house
Reptile wisdom
Zombies on the lawn staggering around

Disorder in the house
There's a flaw in the system
And the fly in the ointment's gonna bring the whole thing down

The floodgates are open
We've let the demons loose
The big guns have spoken
And we've fallen for the ruse

Disorder in the house
It's a fate worse than fame
Even the Lhasa Apso seems to be ashamed

Disorder in the house
The doors are coming off the hinges
The earth will open and swallow up the real estate

I just got my paycheck
I'm gonna paint the whole town grey
Whether it's a night in Paris or a Fresno matinee

It's the home of the brave and the land of the free
Where the less you know the better off you'll be

Disorder in the house
All bets are off
I'm sprawled across the davenport of despair

Disorder in the house
I'll live with the losses
And watch the sundown through the portiere.


(Warren Zevon)