Sunday, February 28, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #1

I know it's not quite March, but it's close enough as far as I'm concerned.

I decided that I must inventory and organize the books that are listed on eBay and Etsy.  It's been nearly seven months since I sold, and I have moved a large number of books around.  Buyers get upset when sellers cannot find books, so I must make sure that I can find every book.

Since the listings are not active, it's much harder to inventory them.  The inactive listings are mixed in together and not sorted by type.  I could run searches, but search results can overlap.  I took screen captures of the images and placed them in a document, which I printed.  I then used a marker to cross out each image as I found the book.  I also organized the books by series.

On Saturday, I did my Etsy shop.  I found all of the books and with little trouble. 

I had allowed my stock to dwindle greatly in July and early August since I knew that the shop would be closed for months.  I have to pay for each Etsy listing, so it was best not to have a full shop.

Today, I did eBay.  I knew eBay would be a bigger task, since I have a larger inventory and a wider variety of different series.  I didn't know that it would become an all-day event.

I first had to pack three boxes of books just so that I could get at my eBay books.  I now have 13 boxes of books, all of which will be listed for sale eventually.  In addition to the boxed books is an even larger number of extra books that are on shelves.  Those also must be listed eventually.  And I can't control my love of cheap bulk lots.  Two boxes of books will arrive tomorrow!

I found all of the eBay books without much trouble.  I did find that I had extra copies mixed in with the books, and I cannot account for why I had extra copies of several of the Nancy Drew original text picture covers in with the books that were listed.  I removed the duplicates.  

I thought I was finished with eBay, but I was wrong.  On Saturday night I changed from the legacy store to the current version.  I was concerned that hanging onto the legacy store which has been defunct for more than five years is probably a bad idea.  Even though I lose my links, it would be better to be able to use the current features instead of not having certain functionality.

After I finished my inventory, I was in the eBay hub, and the number of active listings began dropping.  Usually when items roll off after 30 days, the count stays the same since the item is automatically relisted.  I didn't know if something had changed in seven months or if changing from the legacy store had messed something up.

I knew that I had 217 listings.  I saw 202 listings, then it went down to 199, 198...  Oh, no!  They weren't showing as ended.  Where were they going?  I quickly used the bulk editor to end every listing to prevent any additional listings from rolling off.  I then kept checking, and I stayed at 198.  There were no new listings, and the ones that had disappeared were nowhere to be seen.

I then took my store off of the vacation mode to see if that would do something.  Nothing happened.  I knew that taking the store off vacation was risky, since the missing listings might reappear as active items.  

Was this a glitch or a delay?  I didn't know, but I printed out another copy of my images and began trying to figure out which listings had vanished.  About the time I neared the end of the list, I found that my open eBay store had four books active and for sale.  Oh, no!  I quickly ended them.  Okay, so then I had 202 listings, all of them showing as ended.  I figured that the rest would come along eventually.  

So I waited and refreshed my seller hub over and over.  I had to keep an eye on it for close to two hours.  The listings went live one or two at a time, every so often.  In one case, there was a gap of 40 minutes between new listings.  Each time listings appeared, I ended them.  Finally, I had a total of 217 ended listings.  Whew!

Ended listings remain on eBay's server for 90 days.  Since ended listings have a time limit, that's why I didn't end them in August.  I wanted the listings to be around when I was ready. 

I can now leave the store open with no listings in it.  The store will be ready for me when I decide to relist the items.

This is actually better, since eBay had changed something in the last two weeks.  I was told early in February that I was still in the legacy vacation mode and that eBay was switching me to the current "time away" mode.  Something changed recently, because buyers were beginning to ask me about my items.  The listings were not available for purchase, but buyers were apparently able to get to them somehow. 

It caused me some stress when I knew that people could see my listings and wanted them to be up for sale.  The stress is now gone since all of the listings are ended, and there is no way anyone can see them as active listings.

I still believe that I will open both stores on the night of March 12 or the morning of March 13.  We do learn tomorrow evening what the district's plan is for the rest of the school year.  Depending upon what the decision is (blended or all students back in the building), I could always change my mind.  I can't promise that I will be selling soon, but I hope I am.  I desperately need to get some books out of here...

On both eBay and Etsy, you can go to the main page of my store and follow me so that you are aware of when I have new listings.  Both sites have a heart pictured somewhere near the top.  On eBay, it says "save this seller" after the heart.  On Etsy, it says "favorite shop" after the heart.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy
Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I will continue to keep you updated in this blog.

Edited to add:  I have learned that the disappearing listings is part of a major eBay glitch.  Apparently a lot has gone wrong on the site today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

February 2021 Pandemic and Selling Update #2

I have guided my behavior through all of this with a personal risk assessment for any possible scenario.

The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them

Early in the pandemic when school was closed, I stayed in my house for two months and had groceries delivered to me.  That now sounds silly, but it really wasn't.  In March through May of 2020, around 10% to 33% of locals wore masks in stores.  I did not wish to be around the many people who weren't masking.  Staying at home was the right decision at that time.

In the summer, I began going to the store once per week at 7 AM.  I found that at least 80% of customers wore masks.  As the summer progressed into fall, the percent increased to 95%.  At the current time, mask usage in Walmart early in the morning is consistently at least 95%.  I feel comfortable going in there.  I tend to avoid a certain local grocery store, because the mask usage is a good bit lower.  I also avoid most stores, just to keep possible exposure to a minimum.

I have been particularly worried about the virus because of my autoimmune thyroid disease.  Autoimmune diseases are a curse because the people who don't have them think that the people who do are exaggerating or imagining their symptoms. 

Even knowing that, I was still a bit surprised last year when I saw that no autoimmune diseases are considered risk factors for Covid-19.  I know that autoimmunity is a significant risk factor, even if they don't. 

I find it just a small consolation that this month, the American College of Rheumatology acknowledged the risk to those with autoimmunity:

"Although there is limited data from large population-based studies, it appears that patients with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions are at a higher risk for developing hospitalized COVID-19 compared to the general population and have worse outcomes associated with infection," said Dr. Jeffrey Curtis, chair of the ACR COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Guidance Task Force. "Based on this concern, the benefit of COVID-19 vaccination outweighs any small, possible risks for new autoimmune reactions or disease flare after vaccination."

Of course I've been right to be worried about the virus.

It's been a race against time to get vaccinated.  I have grown increasingly concerned as the weeks have passed, and more people have become lax about masks.  For the vast majority of our citizens, the wait is far from over.  

I did get the first shot of the Moderna vaccine on Monday.  I'm confident that I'm having an autoimmune flare caused by the vaccine.  I won't know for a few more days whether the flare will worsen.  Right now I consider it between mild and moderate, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being a moderate flare.  It's worth it, however.  I would rather have an autoimmune flare than have Covid-19.  Besides, I have autoimmune flares at least four to six times per year, I'm quite used to them.  They are annoying, but I can handle them.

According to the New York Times, the Moderna vaccine is about 50% effective after two weeks.  That would be on March 8 for me.  I weigh the risk as I consider whether to start selling again on March 13, which is the first day of spring break.  

I will be more than 50% immune by March 13, and I can go to the post office when it first opens each day during spring break.  With my usual precautions, my risk will be low during spring break.  

On  March 22, I will be around 70% immune.  That is when I might have to begin going into the post office in the late afternoon when it is extremely busy, probably with people not wearing masks.  I am weighing the risks.  I'm really hesitant about resuming going into any public place in the late afternoon.  I have avoided doing that since spring break of 2020.  I'm not sure I want to break that rule just yet.

I could avoid the post office in the afternoon since my school is on an alternative schedule this year.  My first class is an hour later than usual.  Assuming that we continue with this schedule after spring break, then I could be waiting in the post office parking lot when it opens so that I could drop off my packages first thing.  I would then drive to work.  I would arrive at work around 10 minutes later than I would prefer, but I would still have around 15 minutes to get everything set up.

All things considered, I am strongly leaning towards reopening both stores on March 13.

I decided that I should start making some preparation to that end.  I need to edit the message that I have at the end of each eBay listing, since I will change the days upon which I will go to the post office.  The below image shows the message that I will place in my listings.  Click on the image to see a larger version. 

I must state that I don't accept offers since I get hounded by buyers who want me to lower my prices.  I ignore the requests, then some of them get pushy.  After I added the statement about not accepting offers last year, I received almost no offers.  Thank goodness!

I think I've been harassed with offers because prospective buyers find the listing with the lowest price and then try to get the seller to lower the price even more.  Since I tend to price my books more reasonably than some sellers, those buyers make me the target, trying to get me to give them an even better deal. 

I will add a statement about how to get combined shipping and when it will not be granted.  It's not right for buyers to purchase books individually hours apart and expect me to combine shipping after I have already packed the first bookRead this post for some examples of inconsiderate buyers who expected combined shipping.  I will not allow myself to be put in that position again.

I tried to use the bulk editor to replace the old message with the new one, but it didn't take.  I may have done something wrong, or more likely, the feature just isn't working for my account right now.  eBay suffers from odd glitches rather frequently.  

It will be quite a task, but I'm going to manually edit 218 listings in order to get the message changed.  This will be my project over the next two weeks.  

I have given directions in previous posts on how you can be notified when my stores reopen.

Go to this page on eBay.  Click on "Save this seller" on the line where my user ID appears.  That's all you have to do.

Go to my Etsy shop.  Right under where you see 2,055 sales, there is a box that has a heart followed by "Favorite shop" and the number of followers.  Click on that box to follow my Etsy shop.

I will, of course, publish a blog post when I reopen, but if you are concerned that you could miss that post, please follow the above steps.

Friday, February 19, 2021

February 2021 Pandemic and Selling Update

This winter has been remarkable.  In October, we had a horrific ice storm.  In December, we had the first back-to-back snowstorms (two days apart) that had ever occurred in central Oklahoma.  In both cases, we lost multiple days of school. 

And now this.  We have been the coldest in over 30 years and once again have had back-to-back snowstorms for just the second time ever in central Oklahoma.  What a year.  

I have only worked two days in the last two weeks.  This school year has been a debacle.  The upside is that I cannot catch Covid-19 while I am trapped in my house because the roads are impassable.  

We have been below freezing for 11 straight days, and I have been running the water for the entire time.  Today is the big day when we are supposed to go above freezing.  If the approximately 12 inches of snow on the ground would now melt, that would be great.

On the subject of the pandemic, my paranoia increased steadily beginning in late November.  That was when I began wearing two masks, an N95 mask underneath a cloth mask.  As time has passed since November, I have drawn my cloth mask tighter and tighter behind my ears. 

I have been amused in recent weeks as the idea of wearing two masks has gone mainstream.  Some of us have been doing it for months!

I noticed early this week in the frigid cold (-30 degree wind chill) that I could not feel any of the cold wind underneath my masks.  That's a good sign that my masks are blocking most particles.  I feel good about my odds of avoiding the virus.  I keep my fingers crossed that I can continue to avoid it. 

The last two weeks have been horrible, what with the weather and other things going wrong.  However, better days are ahead in the very near future.  I have an appointment to get my first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.  

On January 24, I wrote:

I will resume selling books sometime between March 13 and June 1.  Either I must be immune after vaccination or the school year must be over, whichever comes first.  I do not expect to be vaccinated for at least another month, which means that selling as soon as March 13 is now in doubt.  

Whenever this subject comes up, I get asked to let you know when certain books will be sold.  Really, the easiest thing for both you and for me is for you to simply follow my online stores.  Whenever I open them again, you will receive an email telling you about my "new" listings, which will actually be my old listings from August 2020.  And then, as I do begin creating actual new listings, you will receive an email each day when I list new books.  It's that easy.

Go to this page on eBay.  Click on "Save this seller" on the line where my user ID appears.  That's all you have to do.

Go to my Etsy shop.  Right under where you see 2,055 sales, there is a box that has a heart followed by "Favorite shop" and the number of followers.  Click on that box to follow my Etsy shop.

Please follow the above directions if you want to be notified of when my stores reopen.  It's too much of a burden for me to be expected to contact a bunch of people. 

I also have had people request that I tell them when I list certain types of books.  I have around a dozen boxes of books plus a much larger than normal number of books on shelves that need to be listed.  I have no idea what I will list and when.  The boxed books will certainly not be first.

Please follow the above directions, and you will receive a message when I list new items.  You can also create saved searches on both eBay and Etsy where the sites will email you if the books you want are listed by someone.  I will need to list as many books as I can as fast as I can.  I will be slowed down if I am expected to contact people to tell them that I have listed certain books.  eBay and Etsy provide such an easy solution to the notification problem, but only when the buyer takes the initiative.

eBay is trying to force my hand and make me reopen my store.  I have had my eBay store on vacation since around August 9.  I let my store renew on September 1, and I have been paying the eBay store fee each month so that my listings and store remain intact.

Last week, I received this message from eBay.  

In September, we introduced our new Time Away settings with several improvements to help you schedule time away from your business on eBay and improve the experience for your customers.

We noticed that you’re currently still using the old holiday settings and wanted to let you know that we’ll be moving you to the new Time Away settings from March 2021.

With the new settings, please note that you will now have a maximum duration for your Time Away:

- If you continue to allow sales, your time away can be up to 15 days

- If you pause sales, your time away can be up to 30 days

If you want to continue hiding your listings for more than 30 days, you can use our “out-of-stock” option and reduce the available quantity of your listings to “0”. Your listing will then disappear from eBay search for up to 180 days.

This is really not a big deal, but it will require me to do one of two things.  I must change to time away (apparently eBay will force me into it where I will then have to make adjustments), or I must reopen my store.  I expect I will choose to reopen my store since I have been leaning towards doing it no later than late April.

My current thinking is that I will definitely reopen my eBay and Etsy stores between March 13 and April 30.  Whether I do it as soon as March 13 depends upon what my comfort level is with the pandemic when that day arrives.  March 13 is the beginning of spring break, so I will be able to go into the post office in the morning during that week, if I decide to reopen at that time.

I will have to consider whether I will feel comfortable going into the post office in the late afternoons beginning on March 22.  That is what will determine whether I will reopen during spring break or whether I will wait until sometime in April.  I have no idea what my comfort level will be in a few weeks.

My eBay listings still have my pandemic message that states that I go to the post office three days per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I have decided that Monday is a no-go.  There is no way I will be comfortable squeezing around the long line of people and between the people loitering near the counter in the late afternoon on Mondays.  I must avoid Mondays.

When I do reopen, I will have to change the days to Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  

Now I wait to see how I feel about selling in three weeks.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bee Gees How Can You Mend a Broken Heart Documentary

The documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart was released in December and can be streamed online via HBO Max.  

I didn't have HBO Max, but I could join for $14.99 per month.  I also could have signed up for a free trial and then cancelled after watching the documentary.  However, I wouldn't have a copy of the documentary.  Therefore, I purchased a DVD that was sent out for review purposes.  It didn't cost much less than $14.99, but the point is that I have a copy of the documentary that I can keep.  That's how I roll.

Since I purchased a DVD that was "for review purposes," I decided that I should review it here.  Besides, I am going to put up posts of some of my Bee Gees stuff at some point in the near future.  Adding photos to the new Blogger is quite a drag, so it's taking me awhile to motivate myself into finishing those posts up.

I didn't learn anything new about the Bee Gees from the documentary.  After all, I have read The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees, which is 688 pages long.  When I read it, I didn't skim at all.  

Since I know everything about the Bee Gees, I know what was left out of the documentary.  I will mention some of those things and link to some videos, for those who might want to know more of the story.

The biography has great archival footage with a lot of clips I hadn't seen before.  It's also a really good overview of the Bee Gees from 1967 through 1980, especially for those people who know little about the group.  The biography skims over the 1980s and has almost nothing from the 1990s and on.  That was disappointing, although I understand why they focused almost exclusively on the late 1960s and the 1970s.

The HBO biography barely mentions the beginning of the Bee Gees' career in Australia.  It would have been nice to have seen more clips from this time period, especially considering what precocious songwriters they were.  

"The Three Kisses of Love" - written by Barry Gibb and recorded by the Bee Gees in 1963 at ages 16 and 13 

Here is "Spicks and Specks" from 1966.  The video has a "preview only" watermark over it, but it's still a great video.

The movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from 1978 is not mentioned at all, and this shocked me.  The movie is such a debacle that its inclusion in the documentary would have been highly entertaining.  As best I can guess, the HBO biographers wanted to go from Saturday Night Fever to the Spirits Having Flown tour and straight into the disco backlash without covering any other topics.  That part of the biography is quite compelling and sad.  The Bee Gees happily singing on stage during the Spirits Having Flown tour is juxtaposed with Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979.  I felt so sorry for the poor Bee Gees.

Back to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It is a musical starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.  The entire plot of the movie is based on Beatles songs.  Many people, myself included, believe that it is actually what started the downfall of the Bee Gees.  The movie is.... extremely boring and quite stupid.  The movie couldn't have helped the Bee Gees' legacy leading into the disco backlash period.  Here's the trailer from a recent DVD release.  The trailer makes the movie seem like it might be worth watching.  It's not.  The movie is that bad.  

Most irksome is that the HBO biography completely ignores the Bee Gees' career after around 1985.  The Bee Gees's career has three phases:  pre-disco, disco, and post-disco.  When I initially became interested in the Bee Gees during the early 1990s, it was because of the disco songs.  When the only songs I knew were the disco songs, that was my favorite era since I knew of nothing else.  As soon as I purchased other albums, the post-disco era immediately became my favorite.  Currently, I like the pre-disco and post-disco eras equally the best.  Disco was only in first place when I initially was drawn to the Bee Gees.  Once I knew the entire song catalog, I moved away from the disco in favor of everything else.  That is true for a large number of Bee Gees fans, probably most of the hardcore fans.

Most people aren't aware of the Bee Gees' middle-of-the-road rock and pop from the post-disco era.  That's because the disco backlash has been a decades-long phenomenon from which the Bee Gees cannot escape.  The HBO documentary even seems to have been impacted by the disco backlash, since it largely ignores the last part of the group's career. 

Here is a sample song from each of the Bee Gees' five late career studio albums.

"You Win Again" - 1987 (The disco backlash was in full force at this time.  "You Win Again" was a hit worldwide, except in the United States where it was ignored.)

"One" - 1989

"Secret Love" - 1991 

"How to Fall in Love Part 1" - 1994

"Alone" - 1997

"This Is Where I Came In" - 2001

I used to be annoyed that people only think of the Bee Gees as a disco group and nothing else.  At this point, I no longer care.  I am gratified that the disco backlash has faded some.  Years ago when I was still quite annoyed, I took the time to figure out what percent of the Bee Gees' entire song catalog is disco.  I came up with around 5%, which means that 95% of the song catalog is not disco.  It's a shame for the Bee Gees to be hated for just 5% of their song catalog.

The HBO documentary is excellent for what it covers.  It really needed to be at least 30 minutes longer in order to include more of what was left out.  Also, a closing statement about how the Bee Gees legacy continues to suffer from the disco backlash might have been in order.  While the disco backlash is not nearly as bad as it once was, it is still in play.  For instance, Bee Gees songs don't get streamed nearly as much as the other hugely successful legacy acts. 

I hope that this documentary helps to lessen the sting of the disco backlash a bit more.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Nancy Drew Diaries #21 Danger at the Iron Dragon

In Nancy Drew Diaries #21, Danger at the Iron Dragon, Nancy and her friends begin learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Iron Dragon MMA.  On the girls' first night at the school, a dead rat is left on the front desk.  Nancy wonders if a rival academy is trying to cause trouble.

This appears to be the typical sabotage book, but it actually isn't.  It's curious that the entire Nancy Drew Diaries series is either sabotage or appears to be sabotage.  

While not sabotage, the plot of Danger at the Iron Dragon is a familiar one that has been used in a number of series books.  More on that later.

When I first began reading the book, I didn't really notice anything other than that the book was written by a decent author, as in not written by the person who wrote Heliotrope Lane or by any of the authors who are obsessed with restrooms.  Thank goodness!

Anyway, I began to notice things as I read the book.  The book appears to have multiple obscure Easter eggs in it, unless I am drawing conclusions where there should be none.  As best I can recall, the mention of a business named Crazy Eights on page 125 was what first gave me pause.  The name may not actually be an Easter egg since it was on a matchbox that featured a picture of cards.  Crazy Eights is a card game.  However, it did get me to start paying closer attention to all names used from that point on.  "Crazy Eights" is a column written by Michael G. Cornelius for the Nancy Drew fanzine The Sleuth, so that's why it caught my attention.

Did the mention of "Crazy Eights" cause me to fall down a rabbit hole and read too much into a bunch of coincidences?  Or could the ghostwriter of this book be knowledgeable about series books and have placed clues all through the book?  

I'm not sure what I noticed next.  The name Penny drew my attention although I did not initially think it meant anything.  I also noticed how often "chuckled" appears in the book.  I ran a search on the text and found that "chuckled" is used 12 times.  "Chuckled" is used excessively in the Nancy Drew books of the 1960s and 1970s and is generally absent in the Nancy Drew books from other time periods.  How odd for it to show up so many times in this book...

I then started paying close attention to all names as I continued to read.  On page 136, the pieces fell into place, and I guessed the solution to the mystery.  Right after I guessed the solution, I made the connection to a certain book and quit reading to go pull that book off the shelf.  So...

If you plan to read this book and do not want to have the entire plot spoiled, you need to quit reading right now.  I will be mentioning the solution to the mystery as well as other series books that have the same plot.  Most of you who are diehard series book fans have probably read the other books, so I'm less concerned about spoiling them.  I feel that Easter eggs representing the other series books were placed in this book on purpose, so I do have to mention the other books.

You've been warned.  Stop reading now to avoid having the mystery completely spoiled.

Some of you might recall a question that I posed in the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group in January that was a bit random, and I gave no explanation for the query since I didn't want to spoil the plot of this book.  My question was, "Which series books feature bank robbers who either use a tunnel or dig a tunnel to get into a bank vault?  One title is Hardy Boys #80 The Roaring River Mystery.  I recall that there are other books, but I can't bring them to mind."

I thought of The Roaring River Mystery right after I guessed the solution to Danger at the Iron Dragon.  In Danger at the Iron Dragon, a past case of Carson's is mentioned.  It involves bank robbers, Max and Ollie Ladrao, who used a tunnel to get into a bank's vault.  The Roaring River Mystery not only has the same plot, but it also has a character named Ollie.  What a strange coincidence. 

These are the other series books which feature tunnels used to rob banks.

Ken Holt #8 The Clue of the Phantom Car
Three Investigators #5 The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
Three Investigators #14 The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
Hardy Boys Casefiles #45 In Self-Defense

Hardy Boys Casefiles #45 In Self-Defense features a martial arts school, from which the robbers gain access to a bank via a tunnel.  This is another strange coincidence in that the setting of Iron Dragon actually matches In Self-Defense.

I thought more about the other books as I finished reading Iron Dragon.  Let's analyze the title, Danger at the Iron Dragon.  The title is styled like the Penny Parker book, Danger at the Drawbridge.  A character in Iron Dragon is named Penny.

The title contains "dragon," and so does one Three Investigators book with the same plot, The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon.  It is possible, of course, that "dragon" could instead refer to the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery of the Fire Dragon.  I can't rule that out.

Now, the word "iron" makes me think of the Ken Holt book, The Mystery of the Iron Box.  That isn't the book with the bank robbery plot, but another Ken Holt book, The Clue of the Phantom Car, does have the same plot.  "Iron" could be a nod to Ken Holt.

The Sherlock Holmes story, "The Red-Headed League," also features the same plot of a bank robber using a tunnel to get into a bank.  It's clear that authors who use this plot like to make a nod to Sherlock Holmes.  In the series books which feature tunnels used to get into banks, one of the robbers often has red hair.  Iron Dragon is no exception.  The bank robber in Iron Dragon has red hair, and he even fist bumps Nancy, as he says, "Redheads rule." 

In addition to the appearance of "chuckled" in this book, I also noticed an interesting passage about Nancy's concussions.

"Probably a concussion," I said, still slurring.  "I've had them before.  Liam hit me pretty hard."

Now Penny actually looked concerned.  "How many have you had before?"

I shrugged.  "I don't remember.  I might have gotten one a few days ago when I got mugged on the street."

Fans often point out how prevalent the concussions are in the older books and how odd it is that she is always okay.  It is curious that a passage mentioning concussions was placed in this book.  

Looking for Easter eggs added to my enjoyment in reading this story.  Without the Easter eggs, I would rate the book as good or between good and very good.  With the Easter eggs, the book is solidly very good.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Judy Bolton's Ghost Parade Spirit Masks

Judy Bolton is the one series that has inspired me to purchase items that I would otherwise not collect and that have nothing to do with series book collecting or any of my other interests.  There is just something about the objects featured in the books that causes me to want to own some of those objects.   

Around 20 years ago, I found a ceramic Christmas tree in a thrift store.  I remember that I felt a little silly buying it as the purchase was impulsive and random.  A ceramic Christmas tree is featured on the cover of The Secret of the Musical Tree.

Recently, I was looking at a certain seller's listings on eBay.  They had listed some bulk lots of series books that had sold at a reasonable price per lot.  I started looking at the seller's other items and saw Balinese, Indonesian, and Mexican masks.  

I thought of the "Indian heads" featured in The Ghost Parade.

The more I looked at the seller's listings, the more fascinated I became.  I didn't want to purchase any of their masks, because they weren't Native American.  I found myself wanting to have some Native American masks like the ones featured in The Ghost Parade, particularly the ones featured on the cover of the picture cover edition.

I started searching for Native American masks.  I didn't want authentic Native American masks.  Cost aside, it would not be right to purchase something like that, and it probably wouldn't be legal.  So that was not a consideration.  I specifically looked for listings that were upfront about the masks being reproductions.

Finally, I found a seller of reproduction spirit masks.  I looked at the photos and thought about it.  I was trying to resist, but I knew that I was going to lose the battle in the end.  I had to have them.  

My internal battle went on for around two to three days.  Finally, I bought the masks, and they arrived today.  

The spirit masks are made from carved wood and have been painted.  They are very nice.  They each have a hanger attached to the inside, and I will hang them on the wall once I figure out where to put them. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Bicycles North! A Mystery on Wheels by Rita Ritchie

Bicycles North! was written by Rita Ritchie and was published by Whitman in 1973.

Kathy and Russ go on a bicycle trip with their cousins, Dave and Laura.  The young people are to obtain water samples from the nearby tributaries as part of a professor's project to analyze pollution.  The group must ride a certain number of miles each day in order to take the samples at each designated location.  Each sample is to be mailed to the professor on the same day that it is collected.

The trip starts off in an ordinary fashion, until the young people cross paths with the Jordans, a couple traveling by boat who seem a bit rude.  Later, the young people become friendly with Tim, who has worries of his own.

As I read this book, I was struck by how well it would have worked as a Trixie Belden book.  The adventure and mystery in this story are just like the types of adventures that Trixie and the Bob-Whites have.  In particular, I thought of The Red Trailer Mystery and The Mystery on the Mississippi as I read this book.

The last time I read the Trixie Belden books, I found the teasing between Trixie and the boys to be a bit much.  I rather enjoyed reading a Trixie-like book that does not have excessive teasing.  Actually, it has no teasing.

This is an all-around enjoyable regular children's book.  It is very good.