Sunday, September 12, 2021

September 2021 Update on My Activities

On a future date, I plan to go into greater detail on how my tooth extraction went and how this school year has gone so far.  I also plan to write a post about misinformation on the Internet.  We all know that it's bad, but you'd think that actual dentists would give the right information about tooth extractions.  I have learned that they don't, or at least the dentists that Google serves up in search results don't.  More on all of that sometime soon.

In summary, the last six weeks have been horrific, just awful.  That's all you need to know, but I'll tell you a little bit.

I knew that the tooth extraction would be difficult, and I knew that going back to school with the Delta variant surge in progress would also be difficult.  I didn't realize that I would have some unexpected (to me) complications from the extraction and that the Delta surge would cause massive problems at school, which are still underway.

I've been a bit puzzled about my autoimmune response to all of this, and I will go into greater detail in a future post once I figure out the severity of my autoimmune flare.  I expected a moderate to strong autoimmune flare after going back to work. 

That I am in a flare is not in question.  I am puzzled as to how bad of a flare it is.  I won't be able to tell until I start coming out of it, which is why I cannot tell the entire story at this time.  I think the flare just got worse on Friday after I went through dealing with the new mask mandate at school that began on Wednesday.  It did not go well.  I barely slept Thursday night into Friday, and I was in tears when I woke up on Friday.  I calmed down later.  By Saturday, I realized that the insomnia and tears were caused by an autoimmune attack that came from the stress of dealing with the mask defiance.  Oh, the hostility.

Perhaps I will bottom out this week and start getting better next week.  I hope so.

What has puzzled me the most is that my energy level has held quite well during the last month.  That is not usually the case.  My energy level usually takes a hard crash during the first six weeks of school.  That didn't happen.  I have had pretty high energy overall, which makes no sense.  

I do have brain fog, which was expected and always happens during the first two months of school.  I have said and done some stupid things, and two weeks ago I did hit a curb at 30 mph, which popped a tire.  

I am fortunate that my Achilles heel when driving is hitting curbs and nothing else.  I don't have wrecks with other vehicles.  I just pop tires once every few years, usually during autoimmune flares.  I think this was the fourth tire that I have destroyed.  One was not my fault.  Someone cut me off, and I hit a curb at 40 mph.  The other three times were my fault and occurred during flares.

I should also mention that I sometimes view red lights differently than I should during flares.  I always stop, but if I have brain fog, then I seem to regard the red light as if it were a stop sign.  I know better, but the autoimmune flares cloud my thinking.  I found myself starting to take off at a red light after looking both ways around the time I popped the tire.  I realized what I was doing and avoided taking off.  

So you can see, autoimmune flares are significant and can have serious consequences.

When I was preparing to close my eBay and Etsy stores, I stated that I would reopen in October (fall break) or November (Thanksgiving break).  As it stands now, there is no way I will reopen during fall break.  Thanksgiving is still a possibility, but things are going to have to get better at school before then.

I know how much I can handle, and selling at this time would be too much for me.  Oh, I could do it, but it would take a toll and would make the autoimmune flare much worse.  I must come out of the flare, Oklahoma must be past the Delta surge, and school must start going better before I can possibly consider reopening my stores.  

I have decided that in advance of fully reopening that I will start with a partial reopening where I sell bulk lots only.  I have so far avoided putting books into boxes.  I think I can avoid the boxes completely this time around, but it will get a bit dicey.  The books are increasing (I simply cannot resist purchasing bulk lots...), and in the below photos of some of my extra books,  you can see that I am beginning to stack books on top of other books.

I was feeling quite emotional all day Friday, no doubt from the autoimmune attack that was underway on Friday.  The overarching theme of my thoughts was that I was sick of the "covid crap" and wanted it to be over.  I call what we are dealing with "covid crap."  I am sick and tired of it.  This needs to end.  Unfortunately, I fear that we have quite a ways to go.  The longer this goes on, the more it wears on us.

I keep thinking back to late January 2020.  Pandemics have always interested me, and I have always watched for any sign that we could have a major pandemic.  Anytime there has been a virus outbreak, I have read everything I could, looking for signs that the outbreak could become a pandemic.  I spent hours during January 2020 reading about the Wuhan outbreak.  Once the virus was reported to be outside of China, I concluded that the virus would spread worldwide, that this would be a major pandemic, and that we were going to go through what would be a minimum of a one- to two-year event.

We are now all but guaranteed of this being a two-year event.  I'm glad that I didn't know for sure in January 2020 that it would be two years or longer, as that would have been a bit much to bear.  It is sobering to think of how long this has lasted and how much longer this could still last.

On a lighter note, some good has come from this pandemic.  We have had experiences that we would never otherwise have had.  I tried all sorts of services last year like Shipt and Walmart grocery pickup that I never would have tried under normal circumstances.

This experience has also shocked all of us out of our normal lives and caused us to change our paths.  This is why I decided to begin downsizing my series book collection.  
I also reconnected with my interest in the Bee Gees.  It was always there, but I was annoyed with Barry Gibb for around 10 years, so I put my interest on the backburner.  That may sound silly, but when you are a fan of actual real people, they do frequently cause extreme annoyance.  What Barry wants and what we want are not the same. (This has to do with unreleased demo recordings.  Barry doesn't want them released, and we do.)  Due to the pandemic and reassessing what is important in my life, I have swallowed my annoyance and put my interest out in front again right where it belongs.

So, I am working on my new Bee Gees mirror collection.

I have five of them so far.  My favorite is the one with the green logo.  It is so gloriously tacky.  The mirrors were carnival prizes from back in the late 1970s.

It's also been interesting so see how other people have changed habits.  I continue to enjoy any unexpected fun new developments in my interests, but I do want the "covid crap" to go away soon.  

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Hidden Clues #9 Sharing Too Much Information

This is a cautionary tale of the possible consequences when too much information is shared in the collecting groups.  Members tend to regard the other members as close friends and share lots of information, as if they were talking to those people in private.  They forget that other people are in the group reading their posts and that what they share might not be in their best interest.

Sharing information that could cause books to be stolen

The Lookout Mystery Series by Christine Noble Govan and Emmy Govan West is extremely scarce in the original hardcover editions with dust jackets.  It is about impossible to find those books.  A member posted about some Lookout books from her church library.  She photographed them so that we could see them.  The books were hardcover with dust jacket.  She said that the church library operated on the honor system.  Anyone could walk into the church's library and remove books without checking them out.  She shared the name of the church and the city in which it was located.

I was horrified that the exact location was shared along with the information that anyone could remove the books without being held accountable.  There were multiple comments on the post about the value and scarcity of the books.  I warned the person who wrote the post, telling her that the group has many sellers in it, that some likely live near her, and that one of them could take advantage of the situation.  I told her to remove the city and church's name from the post.  She instead deleted the entire post.

She never should have shared specific information like that.  

Sharing information that hurts one's own interests

A large number of sellers join groups in order to obtain information.  The knowledge gleaned from the groups helps them to know which books to buy.  In turn, great books show up on sites like eBay because those sellers have learned about the books from the groups.  The downside is when members fail to consider the presence of those sellers and share information that hurts their own interests.  

Many people in the groups work in antique malls and bookstores.  I know this for a fact, since I approve members for some of the groups and see the information on their profiles.

Collectors are surprisingly very open about exactly where they purchase their bargains and for exactly what prices.  People who work in their local store might very well be in the group reading about their cheap find from that store.  If someone from the store does see the post, they might begin to price books higher.  We all know that stores that price higher tend to overprice the books.  We don't want that to happen.

Some collectors have mentioned that quite a few locations of a certain bookstore chain (name withheld for obvious reasons) have figured out that series books can be worth a lot more than $3 to $5.  Those stores are now pricing the books at steep prices, really too high for the local market.  Books that members were happily purchasing for $3 to $5 might be worth $10 to $15 online, but some stores now price them at $25 or more.  That causes the books not to sell and is not helpful to either the buyers or the stores. 

I believe that some employees of this bookstore chain are in the group and have seen the many posts about the cheap series books that are worth more than the prices paid.  Those employees now feel that series books are valuable and price them much higher than in the past.  It has been since the existence of the group and the many posts about cheap books that this chain has increased its prices.  Once too much information is shared, it cannot be taken back.

Books from prominent series like Nancy Drew are now priced a bit steeply in my local stores from this chain.  Ordinary tweed Nancy Drew books with dust jackets are now $20 each.  Tweed Nancy Drew books without dust jackets are now $10 each.  Those are online prices.  Local customers are unlikely to pay that much.  The books are going to take a long time to sell, and the books will likely go on clearance eventually at the prices that the store used to charge.  

I never give the location when I share book finds.  I seldom share the price.  I understand that revealing everything could cause local dealers to raise prices.  Sometimes other collectors will ask me where I purchased books.  Some of them really pressure me to tell them.  I either do not answer, or I give a vague answer, like "in Oklahoma."  

In most cases, the books I purchased were the only good series books in the store.  There would be no reason to share the location.  Also, if one of my local stores were suddenly to get a lot of phone calls about series books because I shared the name and location, then that store might decide to raise prices.  

Occasionally a collector will tell everyone that lots of bargains can be found on an obscure online site unknown to everyone else.  Well, not anymore after they have told everyone.  They just destroyed their own source for cheap books.

In another case, I was rather annoyed when a few people started sharing some very specific search techniques, mentioning one that I used a lot.  Of course they said how that particular search got some great bargains.  I never got anything good from that search ever again, and I bet the person who shared the information was also unsuccessful from that point on.

Sharing information that potentially hurts everyone's interests

On the posts where collectors have given the exact names and locations of stores where they have found cheap books, discussions have occurred about how these stores price books.  Comments are made about how the employees don't know series books and don't know that the high-numbered titles are often worth much more.  Specific examples are given.

Recently, I realized that these discussions could be causing many of the employees to check on the values of the high-numbered books.  This typically results in the books being priced as high as the unsold copies available online, which are likely priced too high.

If your objective is that you want books not to be cheap in stores so that stores will make a good profit, then telling stores how to price series books is a wise decision.  However, if you enjoy finding scarce books priced lower than they should be, then being so open about the mistakes made by stores is counterproductive.

Sharing information that harms one's own business

Some people who sell online make the mistake of being too open about how they acquire items to sell.  I have read multiple tales of woe from people who trusted a friend.  That friend would ask them about how they sourced their stuff.  They told the friend everything.  The friend immediately became their steepest competition by checking all the local stores and purchasing all the good stuff before the seller could.  The friend basically stole the seller's business.  

This has also happened on Etsy with the sellers who offer handmade items.  People try to get those sellers to share how they do it.  If the seller reveals too much information, then the recipient of that information sets up their own shop as a direct competitor.

Sharing information that affects an eBay auction

This one is a little different in that it doesn't hurt the person who shares the information.  It does potentially hurt the interests of other collectors, so it has always been a sore point with me.  Back in the 2000s and early 2010s, several copies of Nancy Drew Old Clock with the 1930A-1 jacket came up for auction on eBay.  At that time, I couldn't justify paying above a certain amount for the book, so I hoped for an auction to fly under the radar.  That never happened.  

Every time an Old Clock with the 1930A-1 jacket came up for auction, a certain collector who was never planning to bid would immediately make sure that absolutely everyone knew about the listing.  So of course, I had no real chance at the book.  

When that collector advertised the listings, they were unintentionally letting sellers with very deep pockets know about the auctions.  The Old Clock auctions usually were won by a certain dealer, who was a member of the group but not a series book collector.  The person who publicized all the auctions was unwittingly helping that dealer, not the other collectors.

I'm always very nervous when something extremely scarce that I really want is up for auction on eBay.  When the latest Old Clock 1930A-1 book and jacket was up for auction on eBay in early 2019, I was worried that someone would let everyone know about it.  I felt that it was the very first copy where I actually had a good chance of getting the book.  However, I still had no chance if anyone advertised the listing.  I was certain that many people knew about it, but not everyone checks eBay constantly.  I was fortunate that nobody mentioned the book and that I was able to win the auction.

I often see excellent items on eBay that I don't need.  I do not advertise them, because I feel that the eBay regulars who check eBay all the time should have first dibs on those items.  Those people are the ones doing the hard work of checking eBay often.  If they spot something great, then they should have a fair shot at it.  

Remember to consider your own personal interests when sharing information online.  Being open is fine, but make sure what is shared will not cause you future problems.