Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shower Power : What is it about showers that makes everything better? I'm not one of those obsessive-compulsive bathers, but, because of riding, I end up usually end up taking them twice in a day. Sure, if I KNOW I'm going to go for a ride in a few hours, and that I will need another shower after that, there's no REASON I need to be squeaky clean from 6am until 9am, but it just feels much better somehow. As a fairly environmentally conscious cyclist, sometimes I have a hard time reconciling this with the waste of energy and water it must be, especially since I take mine basically as hot as the dial can go and sometimes for entirely too long. If I don't, somehow I never feel truly awake.

Which reminds me: ALL showers need to have the controls for the temperature and the pressure completely seperate. I even saw a fancy new shower recently that had a temperature knob with a little preset button, so that the temperature would always stay at your favorite comfort zone, and the pressure knob had a little "overload" button that you pushed to turn on a conservation-be-damned stream of massage-pressure water. Fantastic. My shower has none of these things.

However, I'm still at the point at which I feel impressed just that I HAVE a shower, since before this I lived in a 1907 apartment which only had a tub, and my daily shower was conducted with a pitcher in that tub. Yes, really. It wasn't so bad, and it certainly saved water, and time, since the oh-so-comfortable desire to stay in the shower is kind of reduced when there is only the intermittent dumping of hot water over your head. Maybe this makes up for my superfrequent showers these days.


Pet Peeve of the Day: "Great Deals."

With the abundance of free and cheap classifieds, there are a ton of people out there trying to sell their stuff for just AWESOME prices. And by awesome, I mean deals you'd have to be pretty stupid to take. Here's the first rule: If something is out of the box, it's used. If you've had it for one week and just decide you didn't like it, it's used. If it's absolutely and completely perfect and it's in the same condition that it came from the factory, it's STILL USED. Not shrink-wrapped? Not new.

Okay, now that THAT is settled: A used item's value starts at 2/3 retail price. The basically-untouched kind of item might be worth up to 3/4 price, but typical used condition items are worth perhaps half. Keep in mind that this is the price it actually SELLS for. So many times I see an item that "Retails for $1000, as new, used once, $800!" Look, if one or two clicks to an internet retailer can have it for $750, that's not a bargain. Even if the e-tailer sells it for $850, STILL not a bargain, since there must be a discount factor buying a used item from a private seller to reflect the risk that it might not be as perfect as you say it is.

Of course, there ARE exceptions to the price rule. Price-controlled and supply-controlled items can fetch considerably more than their retail price, and this doesn't count. If you have tickets to the sold-out concert, or special access to NEXT year's gadget before it's come out, or were lucky enough to acquire whatever the hell the random gadget du jour is for the holiday season that some stupid company couldn't build enough of fast of, then go ahead and sell if for what you can get.

Second rule: Add-ons and accessories don't contribute much to the value of the item, if that is the main thing you are buying. If you are selling a game console that was $200 new, and you have 10 games that cost $50 each, you only get to sell the whole deal for perhaps $150, since you have no idea if those are the games the purchaser wants anyhow, plus they ain't as new as they used to be. You don't get to say: "The value of all of this was $700!" The worst of these is modifications to cars. So your Civic has a big old exhaust, fancy rims and tinted windows. So friggin' what? You've actually REDUCED the value of your Civic, buddy, because 90% of Civic buyers just want a car, not your "tricked-out ride."

One last thing with cars: late model, used cars from private parties are "worth" far, far less than their blue book value if you actually want to sell them. That's because the vast majority of car buyers are using loans and credit for their purchase. Since you can't offer financing, the odds of getting $16,000 on a 5-year-old Toyota is pretty slim, even if blue book is eighteen-five . If someone has that kind of cash and wants to buy a car, they are probably going to buy something a lot nicer, and still make payments. I'm sorry for you, since you are caught between the old rock and even older hard place. Your car is too expensive for someone just looking to pick up basic transportation, but too cheap for someone who's in the market to pay cash for a 5-figure item. And, yes, I know the real version of a car dealership will only give you $10,000 in trade and you will be shafted, you should have thought of this before you bought it.

A riposte for buyers: If you are BUYING a car, don't offer another used car in part trade. The seller is looking to get rid of the car because he needs money and wants to be rid of the annoyance of the car. Seriously. This happened to me more than once. This isn't a dealership, folks.


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