Sunday, June 28, 2020

June 2020 Pandemic Update Part 2

This is in continuation to what I posted a couple days ago.  That post was already too long, and I omitted some information from that post.  My comment about not voting in November has concerned some of you, which is understandable.  The bottom line is this:  I will not wait in line at my polling place for 40 minutes to vote unless everyone is wearing a mask, and I will not search for a notary who has not met their limit on the number of absentee ballots that they are allowed to notarize.

I am comfortable with this decision because Oklahoma is probably the most conservative state in the nation.  Oklahoma's electoral votes always go to the Republican candidate, who typically wins the state with 65% or more of the vote.  It's never a question.  So whether I vote for the Republican or the Democrat is a moot point.  It doesn't matter, so I am comfortable with not voting.  However...

In the extremely unlikely event that Oklahoma becomes a battleground state, then I will find a way to vote.  Also, I hope that by November that my fellow Oklahomans will consider mask-wearing to be important.  Right now, most of them don't.

I don't leave my home much.  I do know that around one-half of people out in the early morning in my locality wear masks.  I have parked in store parking lots in the afternoon to check, and it appears that around one-fourth wear masks.

Today on an Oklahoma City message board, some people indicated that they have noticed a shift in Oklahoma City in the last week with mask-wearing on the increase.  I hope so, or we are going to be in so much trouble.

I want to show off my masks that I purchased on Etsy recently.  I have a problem with masks fogging my glasses, so I went with masks that have a nose wire.  These are the masks I purchased.

Even with the nose wire, the masks fog at times, but at least I can wear these masks.

I don't judge people who are out in society, even though I wish more of them would wear masks.  That brings me to another topic:  Covid-shaming.  Covid-shaming is when people shame others for their actions during this pandemic.  It goes both ways.  Some people are shamed for not staying at home and are accused of spreading the virus.  The people who instead stay at home are shamed for being too scared to leave their homes and for living their lives in fear.  The mask-shaming also falls under Covid-shaming.

Some people have started hunting for books again and have shown their finds in our Facebook group.  One member has taken it upon himself to begin shaming those people for not staying at home.  Another person then responded by shaming the people who stay at home.  We now have a rule against Covid-shaming.

I read an article today about how Covid-shaming doesn't work.

The Dudes That Won't Wear Masks

We cannot force people to wear masks by harassing them and shaming them.  I hope more of these people finally realize that transmission of the virus does decrease when most people in a society wear masks.

Some people think that the death rate for Covid-19 is inflated.  Other people like me feel that the death rate is actually higher than what has been reported.  I won't get into an explanation of why I think the death rate is actually higher, but it is tied to the hundreds of articles I have read since January.  I could certainly be wrong about the death rate, and that's fine.

I hope I am wrong, and I look forward to the day when I am proved to be wrong.  My belief about the severity of the situation, whether wrong or not, will keep me from making mistakes that could put my health and that of elderly relatives at risk.  In short, I am continuing to stay home, except for occasional excursions, until I go back to work.

I have read many stories about the lingering effects of the virus and how people have permanent lung damage.  We also don't know how this virus will impact people years from now.  The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis.  Mono is awful.  I had it when I was 19, and I was sick for six months.  In fact, that virus was the genesis of my thyroid disease.  My body has never been the same since I had mono.  Epstein-Barr is a widely known cause of thyroid disease, other autoimmune conditions, and even cancer.  It remains latent in the body and can resurface years later.  It is an incredibly nasty virus. 

So what about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19?  We don't know whether it will ultimately behave like Epstein-Barr.  What if SARS-CoV-2 remains in the body and causes problems five or 10 years later?  We simply don't know at this time.  That's why so many of us are concerned. 

In November, I mentioned the problems with my thyroid medication.
In early August, I finally was near optimal for the first time in five years.  It was great. Unfortunately, Acella Pharmaceuticals changed to a different supplier for one medication I take, NP Thyroid.  While Acella claims that the pills did not change, they actually did.
And now we have proof of what we already knew.  The medication was finally recalled in late May.  Yeah, Acella lied when they said that the medication had not changed.  The pills were at first too weak and then they were overcorrected, making them superpotent.  When labs were done in March, we found that I had too much thyroid hormone in my blood.  We did not know that the particular pills that I was taking were superpotent.  My medication was reduced, and I was fine for a while. 

I was supposed to go in for labs in early May, but testing for Covid-19 was still lagging at that time.  I decided that I felt okay and that I would wait.  That was a mistake.  I can now tell that I don't have enough thyroid hormone in my blood.  If I had gone in for those labs, my medication would have been raised again.  But then that was before the recall, and I would have been taking the superpotent pills again.  I was doomed either way.  I have 2 1/2 weeks until labs.  At least I'm not working now, so I can deal with feeling suboptimal.

I have learned that my school district is considering just two options for school.  Either we will have school as usual, or we will have all digital learning.  I think I can guess which way this is going.  I don't see how regular school is possible.

Since this upcoming school year will have a steep learning curve and will be very difficult to start, I have decided that I will have to put my eBay and Etsy stores on vacation when I go back to work in August.  I will leave them that way until I get a handle on my all-new teaching experience.  Hopefully, that will not be for more than a few weeks.  We'll just have to see what happens.

Friday, June 26, 2020

June 2020 Pandemic Update

I have had so many thoughts about the pandemic that it has been hard to write any updates.

I go back to work in 40 days.  I have a growing feeling that in-person school is impossible.  Distance learning will not work out well.  The students are unprepared for that format, so it will be incredibly difficult.  If we were to have in-person school, then students would have to wear masks.  They refused to wear their badges around their necks last year, and masks are much more intrusive than a silly little badge.

Virus cases are increasing in Oklahoma, although not at anywhere near the level of several other states.  However, we can see by other states what could happen here in a few more weeks, and it won't be pretty.

A saying in my family has to do with being forced to do something unpleasant.  The person who must do this unpleasant task will ultimately do it "either with or without a spanking."  The United States is going to be forced to do it "with a spanking."  And we are going to be spanked hard.

The government is gaslighting us.  I do refer to both the federal and state government, but my focus here is the state government.

Just stop.  It's not going to be okay.

Our governor believes that Covid-19 is no big deal at all, and our state government recently stripped mayors of some power during health emergencies.  This means that if a city in Oklahoma is having an outbreak that the mayor may not be able to put some restrictions into place without approval at the state level.  This is not good.

I voted absentee in the June 30 election.  This was the first time I have ever voted absentee.  I requested absentee ballots for the rest of the year.  However, I don't know if I will vote at all this November.

Oklahoma is just one of three states that has a requirement for absentee ballots to be notarized.  Even worse, notaries are limited in how many ballots they can notarize.

The requirement for ballots to be notarized was waived for the June 30 election, due to the election being within a certain number of days of a declared health emergency.  The health emergency has expired, which is ironic considering that Oklahoma's daily new cases are far higher than when the emergency was declared.

If Governor Stitt does not declare another health emergency, then it will be difficult to vote absentee in November due to the requirement to have the ballot notarized.  I simply won't do it.  You might be thinking, How stupid to refuse to do it.  This has to do with avoiding extra tasks due to my autoimmunity, which I will mention more later in this post.  I may very well be a disenfranchised voter in November.

Back in February, I read the subs on Reddit for probably an hour or so each day.  My opinion of this pandemic was completely formed by what I read on Reddit.  I knew back then that this pandemic would be a big problem and that masks would be necessary.

I was appalled when the pandemic was made political.  That never should have happened.  It is amazing how many people fell for the lies of the media and our government.  It is astonishing how many people continue to think this is a hoax and continue to think that masks are pointless.

I want to scream with frustration over all of this.

Now here we are.

Back in March, I had a worry in the back of my mind that I was able to ignore, but that worry is more on my mind these days, although I continue to push it aside.  We are still in the first wave, regardless of what some people say.  There will be a second wave, regardless of what some people say.  That second wave will occur this winter.  If we do not get a handle on the current situation, we are going to have a potential catastrophe this winter.

As I wrote earlier this year, I hope I am wrong.  I fear that I won't be wrong.

Back in February, I did some prepping.  Nothing crazy, but I knew that I needed to have a few months' worth of staples so that I wouldn't have to go to the store.  I actually have already had that habit for years.  It has to do with my autoimmunity and the desire to keep extra tasks to a minimum.  At any given time, I like to have enough nonperishable items like shampoo and toothpaste to last at least a few months so that I do not often have to worry about running out.

This is not hoarding; I simply stay ahead by a few months at a time.  So in February, I made sure that I had everything I needed to get me up to June.  I did do Shipt grocery orders and Walmart grocery pickup in March and April to get perishable items and snacks that I had not previously purchased.  But at least I didn't have to mess with most supplies, because I had them.

When I made my purchases in February, very few other people were doing it.  I could see evidence that people were already stockpiling beans, rice, hand sanitizer, and ramen noodles at that time.  It was interesting to see that a few people were buying supplies in February while most other people had no idea that other people were already getting their ducks in a row.

When the true panic buying began in March, I had what I needed as did everyone else who had been paying attention. 

Now it's time to get my ducks in a row once again.  I have seen scattered comments expressing the same from people on Reddit and elsewhere.  People who think like me know that we don't want to have to worry about certain staples this winter.

I have been so angry about by the lies of public officials and the media concerning the use of masks.  Even though a cloth mask won't stop microscopic virus particles, it will help mitigate the spread of the virus.  The point is that if most people will wear a mask when around others, saliva droplets will not be flying everywhere.

Whenever people talk, saliva drops fly out of their mouths.  Sometimes the droplets are large, but more often, they are tiny droplets.  It's actually pretty gross when you consider how much spit lands on you when you are talking to other people who are close to you.  Yuck.

I am also appalled that people actually think the masks have to do with government control.

I am going to the store again these days and am purchasing some items to make sure that I don't have to worry about those things going into fall and winter.  I go to the store at 7 AM and do this around once per week.  I go early when like-minded people are in the store, so more of us are wearing masks than not.  Also, fewer people are in the store at 7 AM.

The masks are a total pain.  I do have trouble breathing if I exert myself at all.  If I am moving slowly or sitting down, the mask isn't a problem.  If I am moving, then I feel short of breath.  I understand why people don't want to wear a mask, but ultimately, most people are going to need to do so in order for us to get this outbreak under control.

The craziest thing about all of this is that I may have been exposed to Covid-19 in March and may have gotten it.  I discount that greatly and feel like I haven't had the virus, but I also can't rule it out.

I will refer to two people as Person #1 and Person #2.  Both of these people got a virus in March, within days of each other.  Person #1 had a fever, a cough, and loss of appetite, but no shortness of breath.

Person #2 became very hoarse, had a cough, and felt bad.  This person minimizes everything and made the virus sound like it wasn't much.  I did not learn until much later that this person was having to use their inhaler around 10 times per day due to breathing problems and that they had never had that happen for any virus before.  I also learned that this person had to use their inhaler much more than usual for 2 1/2 months after acquisition of this virus.  This had never happened to this person before from any virus previously.  This person is still experiencing shortness of breath on random days.

So... I was around these people a lot.  I did get a low-grade fever that lasted a day or so at the time they were sick.  It was nothing really, and I am prone to transient fevers due to my autoimmunity.  Usually a fever is just my own body.  However, at the time I did think this was a virus trying to take hold.

I take 10,000 IU of vitamin D each day, which is under a doctor's orders due to my autoimmunity.  I can attest that vitamin D reduces fatigue and muscle pain and does help the body fight off viruses.  Most people would benefit from taking vitamin D.  However, do not take a high dose without getting your vitamin D level checked.

I began taking zinc and vitamin C in February as a preventative measure for Covid-19.  I purchased zinc lozenges in February to have ready if I came down with a virus.  When I felt this virus begin to take hold in March, I began taking the lozenges.  My body beat back the virus, so I didn't get sick.

I did lose my sense of taste for a week or so, but that happens to me several times per year as a side effect of my thyroid medication.  I can't consider the loss of taste to mean anything since I experience it regularly.

Two weeks after I had the brief encounter with the virus, I found that I had an unusual amount of chest congestion.  It was unusual, because there was no reason for it.  If I had had a bad virus, then sure.  I hadn't, so I was a bit mystified.  When much later I learned about Person #2's shortness of breath, I wondered about it.

Even if I did have Covid-19, that doesn't mean that I can't get it again.  We aren't far enough into this event to know how long immunity lasts.  So I continue to be very careful and hope that I can avoid getting the virus.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Sweet Dreams #81 Secret Admirer and #82 Hey, Good Looking!

Sweet Dreams #81 Secret Admirer, Debra Spector, 1985

The most important part of Kim Belding's world is KLAU—the Laurence High School radio station.  As one of its top disc jockeys, she gets to play the latest hits and the newest music.

When a secret admirer begins calling in his song requests, Kim loses her usual on-the-air cool.  Who could the mystery caller be?  Is it Ray, Laurence High's hot rock guitarist?  Or Buddy, the president of the student council and Kim's sworn enemy?  Or is her unknown fan someone she's never met?  Kim's determined to discover her caller's identity, but she may be in for a big surprise!

I was able to read this book, even though I skimmed at times.  The book is enjoyable but nothing special.

Sweet Dreams #82, Hey, Good Looking!, Jane Polcovar, 1985

Patty and Kevin have been going together for months, and it's as wonderful as Patty hoped it would be.  Now Kevin's birthday is coming, and Patty wants to buy him a special present.  That means finding a summer job.

Jobs are hard to find, so when Patty is hired to work on a construction site, she expects everyone—including Kevin—to be thrilled.  But when Kevin finds out that his girlfriend is going to be a hardhat, he's furious.  Suddenly the job Patty thought would help make Kevin happy threatens to tear them apart.

I just couldn't get into this book, so I didn't read it.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sweet Dreams #79 Star Struck! and #80 A Shot at Love

Sweet Dreams #79 Star Struck!, Shannon Blair, 1985

Carrie's excited when she's cast as an extra in a rock video, but her excitement soars sky-high when she finds out that the star of the video is Michael Jackson, her favorite singer in the world!

Working on the Jackson video is like a dream come true—fabulous sets, sensational dances, and best of all, a budding romance with a gorgeous guy named Joe, another extra.  It looks as if Carrie's shooting straight to the top—but looks can sometimes be deceiving.

The premise didn't interest me, so I didn't read the book.

Sweet Dreams #80 A Shot at Love, Jill Jarnow, 1985

Samantha has always wanted to fly to one of those exotic islands in the Caribbean.  So when her father announces a vacation to Paradise Bay with the other families from his company, it's nearly Samantha's dream come true.

There's only one problem, and his name is Keith Garson.  When Samantha met him two years before, she did everything she could to brush him off... until he finally got the message.

But how could Samantha have known back then this short, pudgy boy would grow up to be the most gorgeous guy she had ever seen?  Now she was only seven days to get Keith to forgive her.  Can she succeed?

I overall enjoyed this book, but it was a bit flat for me.  Towards the end, I skimmed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Nancy Drew Reporter Brumberger Movie Slide

I am a bit paranoid lately and for good reason.  I am one of the victims of the rampant unemployment insurance fraud that is currently ongoing in the United States.  And yes, the claim has been reported as fraudulent, and I have taken certain measures to protect myself.  It is a bit unsettling to know for a fact that a Nigerian crime ring has my social security number. 

Now you understand my current frame of mind.

I check eBay pretty frequently.  On the evening of June 10, I had checked eBay to see if I had sold any books and to see if any new interesting items had come up for sale.  I then came back not more than 30 minutes to an hour later.  I saw that the shopping cart icon was red, indicating that something had been added to it.

Oh, no!  Somebody put something in my shopping cart!

I then placed my cursor over the shopping cart to see what was in the cart.  I saw something that started with "Brumberger" in the title.

I don't know what that is!  OMG!  I've been hacked!  Hacked!

Normally, I would have understood what had happened, but my paranoia caused me to think I had been hacked.  I went into the shopping cart to see exactly what this item was.  I saw that it was a completed auction.  Ah, okay.  I remembered the Brumberger movie slide listing that I had entered into eSnipe in order to bid at the end of the auction.  I didn't expect to win the auction and had completely forgotten about it.

False alarm.  Nobody had hacked my eBay account.  Whew!

I received the 10 Brumberger slides today.  I purchased them because one slide features Nancy Drew, Reporter.

The slides are metal with "Brumberger" on each slide.  According to the seller, the slides date from the 1930s and came from the movie studio.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sweet Dreams #77 Ten-Speed Summer and #78 Never Say No

Sweet Dreams #77 Ten-Speed Summer, Deborah Kent, 1985

I'll never make it, Rhonda thinks as she pedals under the hot summer sun.  Going on a bike tour of the Southwest was the last thing she wanted to do.  Although her parents insisted it would "broaden her horizons," Rhonda only feels homesick for her boyfriend, Bruce, and her comfortable life in Illinois.  

But things change when handsome Matt Jordon becomes her friend.  Suddenly the bike trip is fun, and Rhonda begins to notice the magnificent mountain and spectacular canyons.  As the days pass, she finds herself thinking more and more about Matt.  but Rhonda can't be falling in love with him—she loves Bruce.  Or does she?

I gave this book a chance, but I found it uninteresting.  I did not read it.

Sweet Dreams #78 Never Say No, Jean Capron, 1985

Betsy Marsh has had it with Rob Carney.  She's told him over and over she's not interested in him, but he just won't give up!  Things only get worse when their teacher assigns them to create a comic strip together, so Betsy lays down some ground rules.  It's business only.  No phone calls, no constant attention.

The plan works for a while, and their cartoon is a huge success.  But Betsy's feelings about Rob are beginning to soften.  Now she's sorry about the business-only rule—while Rob seems perfectly content.  Has Betsy warmed up to Rob, only to find that he has cooled off?

I do not like the premise.  I gave the book a chance, but I was not able to read it.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #4 The Virtual Vandal

In Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #4, The Virtual Vandal, Swift Academy and two other schools arrive at camp to field-test their inventions.  Soon after camp opens, the Swift Academy students discover that their inventions have been sabotaged!  Unfortunately, everyone thinks that Sam is responsible, since her invention was not damaged.  Tom must uncover the culprit in order to salvage both his friendship with Sam and the competition.

The story is quite science heavy at the beginning, a bit much for my taste.  I wasn't very interested in the early part of the book.  I became very engaged once Tom reaches the camp.

It should be noted that I had just finished reading all seven Harry Potter books, and I never switch easily from one type book to another.  That could have been why I struggled to get into this book.  It's hard to say for sure.

I enjoyed the passage from pages 44 to 49 where Tom's dad gives Tom and Noah some advice about their invention.

Andrew Foger appears on page 58.  This character is a throwback to the old Tom Swift books.  The chapter title is appropriate: "The Nemesis Resurgence."

Fans often say that the old Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books have plots like Scooby Doo.  On page 89, Tom wants to set a trap.  Noah protests, "Who are we, Scooby and Shaggy?"

Noah smirks on page 90.  There are probably a few other smirks.  The smirking doesn't bother me in the boys' books.  With Nancy Drew, I feel differently about it.

I love the virtual reality part of the story.  I was reminded of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective Identity Trilogy, which contains one of the strongest story arcs in the set.  The virtual reality aspect really adds to this book just like it does in that particular Nancy Drew trilogy.

I read the word "trebuchet" and wanted to verify exactly what a trebuchet looks like, even though I thought I remembered.  I found myself reaching towards the page to select the word.  Doh!  I was reading an actual hardcover, not a Kindle edition.  I tapped on words as I read Harry Potter, but I wasn't reading a digital book anymore.  That's what I mean about me having trouble transitioning from one type of book to another.

While I had trouble with the beginning of this book, it is overall very good or better.  The second half of the story is excellent.  In my opinion, this is the strongest story in the latest round of Simon and Schuster's Stratemeyer Syndicate offerings.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Linda's Scenic Tour through the United States

I have owned a copy of Linda by Mildred Wirt Benson for many years.  I used to own one without a jacket and later upgraded to this one with a faded and chipped dust jacket.  The jacket has a name written near the top of the front panel.

I have owned the above book and dust jacket since 2008.

In late May, I saw an online listing for Linda with a dust jacket that appeared to be better than mine.  The price was not cheap but it was also within what I considered to be a fair price without being too high.  This meant that should the book and dust jacket have failed to meet my quality expectations for any reason, I knew that I could probably at least get my money back by selling it.  I prefer just to resell disappointments when possible rather than have to mess with returning them to the seller.

Let me assure you that I do return books to sellers when the books are significantly not as described, like the time that I received books that had undisclosed severe water damage and that were actually wet when I removed them from that package.  Those situations are the ones where I hold the seller responsible.

It's a different situation when I think a book is an upgrade but don't know for sure how I will regard the book once it is in my hands.  If I am not quite satisfied, then I consider it to be my problem.  That's when I resell the book.  What often happens is that I make a slight profit, so it works out for me.

I did purchase the offered copy of Linda on May 26.  The tracking indicated that the seller printed the label on May 26 and dropped the package off on May 28.  Linda should have arrived here by June 4, but she decided to go on a scenic tour.

The book went from Illinois to Iowa and then to Dallas, Texas.  Most of my packages come through Dallas.  The book came here to Oklahoma City, a couple of days later than expected, but no problem.

Linda then detoured to Utah.  I was mildly concerned, but not overly so.  The seller is a professional bookseller whose listings state that books are mailed in boxes.  So long as the book was in a box, it was probably okay.  It was just a bit concerning for such an extremely scarce book to go on a scenic tour.

After Utah, Linda went to Colorado and then arrived in Oklahoma City for the second time.  Finally, Linda arrived today, a week later than expected but safely nonetheless.

The image below shows the tracking information for the package.  Always click or tap on an image to see a larger version.

Linda did indeed arrive in a box.

Thankfully, the box was not damaged.

And as for Linda, both the book and dust jacket made it through the journey just fine.

The dust jacket does have chipping as well as fading to the spine, but I do consider it better than the one I already had.  As almost always seems to happen these days, the upgrade cost a bit less than my old one did.

Some collectors hold out for perfect copies.  With scarce books like this one, I just get what I can and feel happy to have it.  I was satisfied with my previous copy.

To some of you, the new copy probably doesn't look much better.  The new copy is seen on the left in the below photo.

In person, the difference in condition between the two copies is more obvious.  The jacket on my new acquisition still has a shiny surface.  The color is more striking because it is less soiled.  In person, the new one looks a lot better even though the actual condition is just marginally better.

I will sell my old copy at some point.  It will probably be priced somewhere between what I paid for the old copy and the new copy, so for less than what I paid for the old copy and for more than what I paid for the new copy.  Sometimes I will just average the prices and go with that amount.

The below screen capture shows current online listings for Linda as seen on

These books have not sold, which means that most of them are likely priced too high.  There are actually only three different books available, since two of the sellers have their books listed on multiple sites.  The first listing at $216 has an original jacket and is within the price range of what I paid for my two books.  I feel that the $216 book is probably priced fairly.

The other two books have reproduction dust jackets, so I feel that both books are grossly overpriced.  Since the jackets are not original, those books are worth no more than a bare book without a dust jacket.  For Linda, even a bare book is quite scarce, but most people probably would not pay more than $100 for a bare book, if even that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Sweet Dreams #75 First Summer Love and #76 Three Cheers for Love

Sweet Dreams #75 First Summer Love, Stephanie Foster, 1984

Lynn Madison is sure her summer vacation is ruined whens she discovers that her family and the noisy, disorganized Cassidys have accidentally rented the same beach house.  Rather than argue, Lynn's father agrees to share the house for a month.  But Lynn doesn't like the Cassidys, and Jody Wilson, Mrs. Cassidy's "mother's helper," is the most irritating boy Lynn's ever met.

Lynn's feelings about Jody begin to change, but she's sure he has lots of girlfriends at home.  To get him interested, Lynn invents a boyfriend of her own—only to find herself caught in a lie that might turn Jody off for good.

I like this passage from page 72:
The more I thought about all the little things that used to seem so important, the more I realized how little those things really were and what a big deal I'd been making of them.
Most people make too big a deal over the little things.  As my autoimmune disease has worsened, particularly in the last 10 years, I have let go of worrying about the little things.  So much doesn't really matter, and I wish that most people understood that.  I have had to streamline my life so that I can continue to do normal activity.  I cut a lot of corners in order to do what I do, and I don't sweat the little things.

I skipped the part of the story where Lynn lies about having a boyfriend.  This is stupid behavior, and I cannot stand stupid behavior.  I also skimmed a bit towards the end due to the lie.

Overall the book is good.  I was able to read most of it, but it was nothing special.

Sweet Dreams #76 Three Cheers for Love, Suzanne Rand, 1984

When Mandy Birch meets Mick Farris at cheerleading camp, she's amazed at how well they get along.  After all, Mick's from Roosevelt High and Mandy's from Fieldcrest, and the two schools have always been bitter rivals.  But both Mick and Mandy are willing to ignore the conflict and concentrate on their romance.

Unfortunately, the students at Fieldcrest aren't so understanding.  When word leaks out that Mandy's going out with someone from the enemy camp, they label Mandy a traitor.  The tension builds until one day Mandy's forced to choose between loyalty to her school and her love for Mick.

This book contains too much exposition.  I don't need to know all of the information that the author gives me.  The story takes too long to get to the point, and I was bored.  I skimmed for a good bit, and then I quit reading.  I do not like this book.

Monday, June 8, 2020

American Adventure #3 The Hills of Home by Margaret Trent

In American Adventure #3, The Hills of Home, the Burkes decide that it is time to leave California and go back home.  They plan to drive to Florida first to check out an orange grove as a possible investment.  Ted stays in California to work at a hotel while the Burkes, Mary, and Bob begin their journey across the southern United States.

I have scanned the text of this public domain book.

Chapters 1-5
Chapters 6-10
Chapters 11-16

On page 34, Mary tells Jane not to use reducing soap because Barbara La Marr died from it.  I immediately looked up both Barbara La Marr and reducing soap.

Barbara La Marr was an actress who died at the age of 29 from complications of tuberculosis.  She may have been a drug and alcohol addict, and she went on crash diets to lose weight.

Several brands of reducing soap existed, including La-Mar reducing soap.  The soap supposedly melted the pounds off.

I find it interesting that the text states that Barbara La Marr died from reducing soap, and an actual brand of reducing soap was La-Mar.  One had nothing to do with the other, even if Barbara La Marr might have used reducing soap during one of her crash diets.  I think that the similarity of the names caused them to be combined by the author in the story.

I love how through a chance meeting with Ted in the first book that the Burkes and Mary become acquainted with Bob.  On page 83, Bob reflects that he "belonged to them now."  It's just neat to see how much the relationship has developed.

Bob and Jane go to see a fortuneteller, where Bob is given a prophecy.  Jane follows the prophecy throughout the book, where it gradually comes true.  This same situation plays out in Trixie Belden #12 The Mystery of the Blinking Eye, although the prophecy in this book does not rhyme like Trixie's prophecy.  An odd coincidence is that this book has a character named Jonesy, and Jonesy was a character in the Trixie Belden series.

The book also has a number of harrowing adventures including two encounters with menacing hobos and a drive through flood waters.  Bob falls down into a huge hollow tree and is trapped there for several days.  He finds something valuable down inside the tree.  Bob is also forced to work on a chain gang as a prisoner.

On page 124, Jane has a sick headache and has to lie down for a few hours.  Mention of sick headaches always catches my attention, since I have had many of them over the years and at inopportune times, like on road trips.

On page 149, Mary tells the Burkes, "I counted eleven hoboes outside Sierra Blanc.  They must be headed for that big Tramp Convention Mr. Murtrie told us about."

The WHAT?  I have never heard of such a thing.  Mary could be making a joke, but she sure doesn't sound like it.  In any case, I found it hilarious.

On pages 218-220 in Chapter 13 (remember that you can read these pages through the third link given above), the author manages to check just about every box for blatant racial stereotyping of African Americans.  Yikes.

A "negro" boy is named Napolean George Washington Jefferson Robert E. Lee Hickabee, and he proudly declares that he knows how to write it.   He speaks in the stereotypical dialect.  Napolean grins constantly and rolls his eyes.  Mrs. Burke asks if he likes watermelon, and he tells her that he likes chicken instead.  Right, just mention those two particular foods and no others.

This is an excellent book.

I felt lost after I finished this books.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the American Adventure series.  This never would have happened if I hadn't seen that listing on eBay.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Sweet Dreams #73 Language of Love and #74 Don't Forget Me

Sweet Dreams #73 Language of Love, Rosemary Vernon, 1984

Robin Mackin's thrilled when she finds out that she's been chosen for her high school's exchange program to Switzerland—until she hears that Henry Bouchet, her archrival from French class, is going, too.

Henry is infuriating—he's always trying to outdo Robin.  And just because he's great-looking, speaks terrific French, and can be positively charming, he has the nerve to think she likes him!  What's worse is that Robin isn't always so sure she doesn't.

How will Robin ever be able to stand three weeks in Switzerland with Henry?  And afterward, will they be best friends or worst enemies?

I dislike romance books where the protagonist despises her future love for most of the book.  That's no fun at all.  I skimmed this book just to see if it would finally get engaging.  It never does.  I do not like this book.

Sweet Dreams #74 Don't Forget Me, Diana Gregory, 1984

Wendy Ferris's mother has just left for a new job in Philadelphia.  Now that she's gone, Wendy feels sad and lonely.  Even her best friend, Marlo, can't seem to cheer her up.

But it looks as if things might begin to work out when Wendy meets Gary, who has just moved to town from California.  Without a doubt, Gary is the best-looking guy around, and before long Wendy starts daydreaming about him.  For awhile she thinks he might even love her—until she discovers Gary wants to go back to California to see his old girlfriend.  Will Wendy find herself abandoned again?

I did not find this book interesting, so I did not read it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

eBay and Etsy Update June 2020

My Etsy sales from the last two weeks are equivalent to the very best sales I ever had on Bonanza (originally Bonanzle) during the time that Bonanza was at its peak in 2009-2010.  The sales on Etsy are really astonishing.  Now I know why.

Etsy sales doubled in April thanks to homemade masks

From the above article:
The sales surge spilled out onto the rest of Etsy, too. Sales of items other than masks were up 79 percent in April... [Etsy is] currently forecasting a significant boost in sales and revenue for all of its second quarter.
I can believe it.  Some of my sales are from repeat buyers who follow me on Facebook or here, but other buyers, far more than usual, are guests.  The guests are people who are not registered on Etsy but have come to Etsy, probably from online searches, to purchase something.

I am also seeing odd patterns in the sales.  In a short amount of time, three different oval paperback Trixie Belden books sold to three different people.  During another short amount of time, Nancy Drew picture covers sold to two different people.  These patterns tell me that my listings are probably being promoted in Etsy search or in an online search.

I decided to check on my search ranking in Etsy's default search option, which is relevancy.  A search for Trixie Belden yields 24 of my books on the very first page of results, which has 48 listings on it.  Fully half of the listings on the first page are mine.  That is amazing.

Nancy Drew is a much tougher search since it has far more results.  Changing the category to "books" to weed out the handmade items, the first page of results yields seven of my books, which isn't that great.  However, I am still selling a nice number of Nancy Drew books on Etsy.

My overall Etsy sales are coming in spurts.  I can have quite a few sales, like 10 or more, in under two days, then I can go several days with no more than one sale per day.  I assume that Etsy's relevancy search is constantly changing, so I probably have a better ranking at some times rather than at others.

eBay is a different situation.  My Nancy Drew listings must be completely buried in eBay's "best match" search, since very few Nancy Drew books are selling.  I had heard that a seller's search ranking on eBay can tank after an eBay store is closed for a while.  This seems to be the case for me.

In spite of that, I am selling some books from more obscure series since the searches yield few results.  When a search has few results, eBay cannot hide my books.

During the last two weeks, my Etsy packages have greatly outnumbered my eBay packages on every trip to the post office.  I took a picture of my outgoing packages from today.  The eBay ones are easy to spot since they have eBay tape on them.

Out of 12 packages, nine were from Etsy, and three were from eBay.

Each quarter, I get a $25 coupon from eBay to use on eBay-branded shipping supplies.  This allows me to get some eBay-branded supplies for free or nearly free.  I switch between tape and boxes that measure 10" by 8" by 6".  Unfortunately, I don't really have enough eBay sales to be able to use up the supplies easily.  I really need to use them on the Etsy shipments.  However, I must be careful.

Some buyers are weird, paranoid, or easily angered.  I never know ahead of time when I am dealing with one of those people.  I do not use the eBay tape on the Etsy packages, because I don't want an Etsy buyer to freak out because they don't have anything coming from eBay.  Also, some people really hate eBay and refuse to use it.  Those people could get offended if a box shows up with eBay all over it.

At first, I didn't use any of my eBay boxes for my Etsy shipments.  I finally realized that I could just use pieces cut from brown paper grocery sacks to cover the eBay branding.  I'm not sure why I didn't think of the obvious solution a bit faster.  In the above picture, the eBay boxes are at the top right, middle left, and bottom right.  You can see the brown paper that covers the eBay branding.

The other reason that I don't have visible eBay branding on my Etsy packages is that it would be tacky.  I do try not to be tacky.

I have had to go to the post office on more days than I originally intended due to the number of packages.  Last week I went on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  I would not have gone on Saturday if I had known that the sales would abruptly pause on Saturday and Sunday.  I feared a huge number of packages for Monday of this week, but that never materialized.

For this week, I have so far stuck to the Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, and I think I will be able to finish out the week with just the three days unless I have a large number of sales on Friday.

I have completely finished my initial run of getting listings up on both eBay and Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I have listed some more of my Chalet School books on eBay.  The Chalet School series was published in the United Kingdom.  This is a rare opportunity to acquire hardcover books with dust jackets and not have to pay the high cost of international shipping.  I have priced the books at pretty much fire sale prices.  I don't want them to hang around forever, since I have more to list.

I do have more books to list, but it will likely be at least a few days or possibly next week before I get to them.