Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Christmas In The Bag

ENTRY 0022

Okay.  Currently, I don't have anything active on Ebay.  So while I'm familiarizing myself with my new toy (see previous entry), I'll go back to something I mentioned a couple of entries ago.

As I said at the time, with one notable exception, I didn't do any of my Christmas shopping on Ebay.  Using Ebay might work if I actually knew ahead of time what I was going to get everyone on my list.  But since I generally don't know what I'm going to get until I see something on the shelf of some store, it's much easier for me to go into combat mode and brave the crowds at the mall.

(I'm not kidding about the combat mode thing.  I realized a long time ago that Christmas shopping should be treated as a full-contact sport.  I navigate the mall as though I were a bulldozer competing in the Indianapolis 500.  Get in my way at your peril.)

That one exception to my avoidance of Ebay really doesn't even count as the actual present.  Make that presents, plural.  It all stems from one itsy bitsy thing.  The one thing I really dislike about Christmas -- other than "Silent Night."  I dislike wrapping gifts, probably because I really, really suck at giftwrapping.  Obviously, if I am presented with an opportunity to reduce the number of gifts I have to wrap, this is a good thing.  and I will take full advantage of the opportunity.

For instance, a few years ago, I was shopping in Walmart just after the big back to school rush.  At one particular display, I observed that the store had a variety of backpacks and similar items marked for clearance.  Among the items in the display were some messenger bags by Eastsport, and I suddenly had the bright idea of getting a couple of these bags, and using them as the "giftwrap" for the presents I would be giving my niece and nephew.  (Keep in mind that this was mid-September, and I wouldn't be doing any other Christmas shopping for another couple of months.)

It turned out to be a pretty good decision.  A few months after that Christmas, I asked my sister-in-law if the kids had liked their bags.  Short version -- yeah, they did.

Okay, getting back to this past Christmas.  Back in October, I had another, similar lightbulb moment.  I was doing some browsing on Ebay, and the lightbulb went on as I was looking at some vintage TWA flight bags.

I picked up one of these TWA flight bags for myself many years ago.  It's tan with red lettering that says "TWA Getaway Vacations."  (From what I can tell, these were given to passengers who booked certain vacation packages on TWA, and they date back to the 1970s.)  It measures about 12"x14"x6", and it has one large zippered main compartment, an outside pocket, and an adjustable shoulder strap.  The shoulder strap could be a little longer, but that's my personal preference.  It holds several books quite nicely, which is the original reason I acquired it.  In recent years, though, I've used it mainly for carrying CDs when I go on a road trip.

I don't have any photos, but if you're curious as to what it looks like, just go to Ebay, and type "twa bag" in the Search box.  The number of search results will vary, but you should see at least a dozen or so of the style I just described being offered at any one time.  (This will not be the only style to show up in the search results, but it won't be hard to miss.  It's the only tan flight bag I've ever seen from TWA.)

During this particular search, I encountered a seller who was offering two of these bags in a single listing.  And at what I considered a bargain price -- $4.95 for the pair.  I decided that since the kids liked the last bags that I used as "giftwrap," they would probably enjoy these as well.  And after all, inside the bags would be their real Christmas presents.  Most important of all, this would mean that there would be two Christmas presents that I wouldn't have to wrap.

I saved the listing in my Watch List, and I sent my usual inquiry to the seller.  In other words, "Do you accept money orders?"  The reply came back in the affirmative, and I wasted no time placing a bid.  Surprisingly, mine was the only bid, especially considering that I placed my bid on the last day of the listing.

As soon as I won the auction, I got the seller's mailing address, got the money order, and mailed the payment.  A few days later, I knew he had received the payment when I saw the feedback left for me.  And about a week or so after that, when I went by the post office, there was a key in my mailbox.  Inside the locker, of course, was the package.  (Also of course, I promptly left feedback at the next opportunity.)

As I suspected, my niece and nephew thought the bags were pretty cool.  And if I'm not too terribly mistaken, the flight bags gave them somewhere to put all (or at least most) of their presents in one place.  That probably made my brother and sister-in-law happy.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Brand New Toy

ENTRY 0021

Over the weekend, I picked up a new "toy."  It was WordPerfect Office X5 (which I think is their way of saying version 15).  I had been needing to upgrade for some time now.  I was previously using WordPerfect 9.  The computer I originally installed it on ran Windows 95.

The main reason I finally decided that it was time to upgrade was QuattroPro.  A few months ago, for some reason, whenever I opened QuattroPro, I would get a message that said something like, "QuattroPro 9 has stopped working."  A few seconds later, it would close.  I uninstalled QuattroPro, then reinstalled it.  It would work for a while, and suddenly I would be faced with the same message.  I even uninstalled and reinstalled the entire Corel package.  The same thing happened.  Let's just say that I was starting to get a little annoyed at having to do this over and over again.

This past week, one of the weekly specials at Staples was WordPerfect Office X5.  They had it for half of its regular price.  I also had about $9.00 in rewards coupons that I needed to use right away.  I had been thinking about upgrading for some time, and this was as good a time as any to do it, so I finally bought a copy.

Installation was easy, and I've spent a few hours getting acquainted with the new software.  There's some cosmetic differences between the versions, but X5 works the same as 9 did.  I opened files in both WordPerfect and QuattroPro, and the information looked the same as before.  I had burned a CD backup of the spreadsheets for the library, and it might have been around that the time that my problems started.  But there doesn't appear to be any problems with the new software.  At this point, though, I have had it on my computer maybe 72 hours at the most.

I've been taking various written notes.  The next order of business is to start integrating everything into the library records.  And I need to figure out how often I need to burn a backup CD.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

I'm Still Here

ENTRY 0020

Yes, I've been a little quiet for a couple of months.  There have been a few reasons.  First and foremost among those was Christmas shopping.  With one little exception, I did all of my Christmas shopping in the real world.  I'm not going to trust finding the right present for any of my family members to the vagaries of Ebay.  I found what I wanted at different stores, and believe it or not, I enjoy going to the mall.  You just have to approach Christmas shopping with the attitude that it's a full-contact sport.

I've also been working on the records for my library.  In addition to the spreadsheet file I mentioned in a previous entry, I have pages of handwritten records that, for one reason or another, I never got around to turning into Quattro Pro files.  Most likely, it's most likely because I would have needed to use another floppy disk to store these files.  At the moment, the main spreadsheet file is just under 800 KB -- still quite a bit less than the 1.44 MB capacity of a floppy disk, but as I said, I could see where it would eventually use all of that capacity and more.  Even with the relatively small 2 GB capacity of the flash drive which I use solely for the library's record-keeping, worrying about running of storage space is no longer a problem.

Both of the new files deal with the tracking of my acquisitions.  Trying to go into more detail than that would probably require using a sheet or two as an example.  And I'm not particularly interested in doing that; not the least of which is because I know that most of you would be asking, "Why are you doing this?"  Remember I said that I was more than a little OCD?  That would be why I'm doing it.

Creating the first sheet in each of the files is usually the most time-consuming.  Once that first sheet has been formatted to my satisfaction, I can copy and paste the formatting to the second and subsequent sheets.  When the sheet has been formatted, it's simply a matter of punching in the numbers, and double-checking them with the handwritten pages to be certain I entered everything correctly.

Now, it's more a matter of finding a few minutes here and there to transfer the information.  Yes, I'm certain I could finish it within an hour or so if I focused solely on that specific task.  Most of the time, though, I'm thinking about it when I'm also thinking about doing three or four other things at the same time.  And this task requires one's full concentration -- multi-tasking doesn't work as well when handling all of these numbers.

I should be able to transfer all of the information to the spreadsheet files in another week or two.  I'm not sure what I will be doing after that in the way of records.