Saturday, 27 April 2013

Hello, Possum !

Dear Possum(s)

I am very pleased that you found the tiny broken part in my roof tile, and decided to move in.   I know it's a lovely dark open space up there and you must have been chuffed to find your new roomy rent-free apartment.

I never knew that possums could River-dance - I certainly never expected you to be doing it from 2 to 5 am every morning in my bedroom ceiling wearing hob-nailed boots.   

I'm sorry for not being an appreciative audience to your performances.   I'm sure the other families you roomed with enjoyed them a hell of a lot more than I do.   Perhaps they also supplied you with the steroids that made you twice as big as you should be.

Also, thanks for jumping on the eaves with your fat steroid-taking possum bums, and causing it to fall down.   That's really nice that you've created a nice platform there, so that anything can now walk into my roof with ease and comfort.  

 You've turned my roof into a fricking Noah's Ark.   I can only imagine what will be able to move into my roof now.   I know it won't be something magical like unicorns.

It's windy today, and I'm sure the roof space is getting a lovely airing from the huge bloody two-metre hole that is now open to the elements.  I can only picture you filling this space with possum pooh, piss & other nasty things.

I'm just waiting to hear back from my insurance company to send someone out and fix the mess you've made.    Then I also get to pay hundreds of dollars to a special "possum man" to come and possum-proof my roof, and catch you in order take you away and set you free again in my area !!!  How nice for you!    

May I suggest Unit 12 as a nice abode.  There is a lovely bogan family there that will appreciate your nightly river-dancing far more than I.    They will appreciate *you* in more ways that I.  

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Go Home eBay - You're Drunk !!

eBay Australia is implementing a huge change on 1st May.

As with any news like this, I respond by screaming and hiding in the cupboard until either I see a spider, or my need for a drink forces me out.

The blurb read that changes were being made to the fee structure, so the fees for listing were decreased, but the selling fees were increased - the end result being that the % of fees is moved to after-sales, instead of just for listing.

"What a load of wank", was my first reaction.   I boo-hoo'd and moaned to my parrots, who didn't give a hoot.   They just kept eating bird seed and crapping, oblivious to the fact that eBay keeps them in food.

So, I decided to actually sit down and figure out how this change affected me.   Look eBay right between it's beady little eyes, and see what the future held.

Yes, I squealed when I saw the price of auctions was tripled from $0.50 to $1.50.     Then I remembered that I don't run many auctions.   Disaster averted.

They are bringing back the basic store at $19.95 which I used to be at, before they scrapped it and I was forced to change to Featured Store at $49.95.      Good news.

They tweaked the FVF up by 1% on items.   No biggie.

They offered 80 free Fixed Price items per month (basic store) or 200 for the Featured Store.    Not very exciting when applied to my 5c listings  (media - books, videos, CDs) - but when applied to everything else at 20c per listing - then that was a fair saving.   I could sell more items that I'd been avoiding because of the higher listing cost.  It doesn't sound like much, but 20 cents per listing can add up very quickly.

I dug out my sales for February, and applied these theories.   I included no auctions in this, as I had none in February.

a)   What it currently costs, before the change :    Store Fee ($49.95) + Listings Fees ($44.50) + FVF ($105.78) =  monthly cost of $200.23

b)   New fee structure with Featured Store and 200 free listings  :    Store Fee $49.95 + Listing ($33.50) + FVF ($105.64)  = monthly cost of $189.09

c)   New fee structure with Basic Store and 80 free listings:  Store Fee ($19.95) + Listing Fees ($36) + FVF ($119.04) = monthly cost of $174.99


I found out that the changes will actually give me some small savings from around $10 to $25.    But then given that the fees are moving to after sales are made, then that would explain it.   :-p

The free listings all start on 1st May, so to get the best advantage of them, I would need to relist all my 20 cent listings on this day.  (or if I go back to a Basic Store - the 50 cent listings).

The number geek in me is satisfied.

A benefit to me from eBay - who'd've thunk!

eBay - go home, you're drunk!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Climbing the Family Tree

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to reluctantly part with my genealogy microfiche collection.     I started buying these about 20 years ago when I  ~  a.   had a life /   b.   had money to spend.

Researching the family tree became my passion.    It was a grand mystery to be solved - link A to B, and track the trail further back.   It suited my nerdy/Aspberger's personality  The funny thing about genealogy - to get extra information about your ancestors - to put meat on the bones, so the speak - they had to have either been rich or naughty.

I'm very lucky that mine were naughty (I would have been luckier if they had been rich).   Yes, tragedy, naughtiness and poverty abounds in my family tree (and still does!) - which is chock full of coal miners, factory workers, servants, labourers and farmers.   Yet sadly, none of them were convicts that were sent to Australia!!   (This would be due more to their cunningness at not getting caught, rather than having never committed a crime).

Yes, I found out some things that weren't meant to be known.

I found out my mother was # 8 of 15 children.  I didn't know that.  Mum wasn't too happy when I found out, and I was questioned sharply on exactly why I had to do the family tree anyway.    I had only met two uncles and one aunt, and knew of two other uncles that I'd never met, and one who had died when I was young.   I only know that because when I was a child (about 10), I opened the front door one night in my PJs and dressing gown, and found two policemen standing there.   Later I quizzed Mum about why they were there, and she finally admitted that my Uncle John had died.   Uncle John?  Who? I'd never heard of him ...   That got quickly swept under the mat, but those two policemen stayed in my child's mind, because I had been in awe of them - so tall in their smart uniforms.

Having never known any of my grandparents -  and my parents,  aunts & uncles being of the era where children were seen and not heard - none of these things were talked about.  

I got the genealogy bug when I was about 25, and never stopped from there.   I had to visit my parents with a bottle of wine and get them half-cut, before the stories came out of their loosened lips and I would sit there scribbling in my notepad.

Anyway, searching for something to make some money so I could pay my mounting bills, I found my plastic container full of microfiche and decided to let them go.   I didn't even have a microfiche reader - that got sold 3 years ago when I was forced to move, so they were of no more use to me.   I had gleaned all the information I needed from them already.  

But I had no idea if there were of use to anybody else.  Surely all this information was now available on CD, or on the internet?

I searched for previous sales in the "Genealogy" section of eBay, but there was just so few microfiche that had been for sale, that I had no prices to go on.  My microfiche contained censuses, and baptism/marriage/burial registers for certain counties in Scotland and in England, and few from Australia.

I put most up for auction, and the single ones up for BIN prices.    There was interest from all over the world - and they ended up being sent to Scotland, England and the US (and within Australia).
Every single one of them sold - and my total sales in the end was just over $600.   I had been without the pleasure of watching a bidding war for so long, these ones had my granny undies dancing with joy.

Here are a couple of the sales, so you get an idea.   Lots of people bought multiple microfiche.  Or microfishes - as one customer hilariously called them.   ;-).

I still have a few left - some of them I don't know what to do with, as I don't have microfiche reader any more, and they have no title on them - I basically have no idea what is on them.

So, if you ever see some microfiche (or microfishes) lying around your op shops - be sure to pick them up if the price is right.     Then somebody else with a microfiche reader can get motion sickness like I used to - scrolling through the pages.   Happy days.

Friday, 19 April 2013

22 Hours Later ....

I can honestly say that was one of the worst 24 hours of my life.

Where did you go in that time, Dad?    You don't know or won't say.   You turned up home at noon yesterday (Thursday) looking like a grey, gaunt ghost - totally unsurprised to see your entire family at home at midday on a Thursday.   Unsurprised to see me bawling my eyes out, and nearly faint with relief.    When I gave you a hug, you felt like a frail shell of my father.   You left when the sun was high one day and got back home the next day when the sun was high, and to you it was still the same day.  You hadn't eaten or drunk anything for 24 hours.

You drove to a medical centre 20 minutes away to pay a bill at 2:30pm on Wednesday, and then disappeared.  We know you you made it there because we rang the receptionist.   It was on a very busy road, and you don't know the area very well. But the exit from that medical centre only lets you turn one way - but that wasn't the way you needed to go to get home.

So you kept driving - in the wrong direction.  Away from us.

You are 84 years old.  You have been blessed with good health, but after being rear-ended in a car accident a couple of years ago you have declined in health & mind.   You have lost weight, and grown vague, and you have lost interest in the world around you.

My mother, frustrated with the way you have declined has responded to this by nagging you 24/7, and calling you names liked 'useless' and 'pathetic'.   You don't know how sad that makes me.  I know it hurt you inside.  You have always been quiet like me, but now you stopped talking at all.

But then we got you a plethora of doctors, and you were responding well -  a cause was found - anaemia from the kidneys not working properly.   The last few weeks you had started to put on weight, your hands have shrunk back to their normal size, and you have taken an interest in your hobbies again.   Just last weekend, I was talking with you & Mum, and a holiday to Queensland was mentioned.  I saw your eyes light up, as you discussed where you would stay on the 4 day drive up there.  You don't know how happy that made me.

What happened on that drive?   You mentioned driving in the night, and not remembering how to put the headlights on.  I am horrified.   You have no idea where you drove to, but you do remember stopping for petrol & a toilet break.

Yesterday, after the police & everyone had gone - and it was just you, me & Mum left.   You said that you'd "gone to do your job, to go and make some money.  To make some deliveries."

You used to be a courier, and your job was making deliveries in Melbourne and beyond.  You didn't retire until you were 75 years old.   You did this job for about 20 years and you loved driving your car.  

You want to go back to a time when you had a job and a purpose to life.  When you were earning the money.   You don't want to be 'useless'.  

My Uncle Fred, did something similar when he was 75 years old. I was only seventeen at the time.   He disappeared for 2 weeks, leaving my Aunt frantic with worry.  It turned out he had gone fruit picking up north. Took off without a word.  When he returned, he said he wanted to "earn some money, and feel useful again."  I see a common theme here, with retired men.

When the two police officers turned up yesterday to cross you off their 'missing persons' list, we all talked about how you will no longer be allowed to drive.  You took no notice, and chatted how you were going on a driving holiday to Queensland soon.

Sorry, Dad.  We are hiding the car keys.   Mum can't drive, so I know this will affect your independence, and will be a big blow to your self esteem.  It kills me to have to do it, but it is for your safety, and all the other people on the road.

I am thankful that my Mum still has her health.     I am thankful that I have 2 brothers and a sister to help share the burden of this.    I am thankful for my friends - both real life and on-line who have helped through this.

I am thankful to my ex in-laws who were the ones who spotted his car and gave me the call that found him.

Dad, the next few weeks are going to be very hard for you.  Please don't disappear into your own world again.  We are here for you in this one.  

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Missing :-(

I  had a blog all lined up, and then Boston happened, and I put it on the side-burner as less important and trivial at the time.

But now my father is missing.

He left yesterday afternoon at 2:30pm to go and pay a bill at a medical centre about 20 minutes from home.  He took off before my mum could get in the car with him.   He is 85 years old and starting to get a bit vague.

It is now 8am the next day and nothing has been heard of him.

The police have been notified, and we have done the rounds of hospitals, and places he might be.

Now it is raining for the first time in ages, and all I can think about is my Dad out there somewhere in the cold.  He doesn't even have a warm jacket on.  I hate not knowing where he is or what has happened to him.

I feel so useless.