Roadtrip 2015 – One hell of a whale fail

As many of you know, I ‘ve been a little obsessed with whales (and aquatic life in general) since I was a kid, and I might have been trying to go whale watching a couple of times. On my third day of vacation I had booked another attempt. A seaplane flight from Lake Union to San Juan Islands followed by a whale watching cruise. Sounds good, eh?
I’d booked it in advance, so I took a taxi to the terminal to check in, had breakfast and we took flight to the encouraging words of the attendant: “There’s a bit of fog but don’t worry. Worst case you’ll have to turn around and try again in an hour.”
Didn’t happen, as you might have guessed from the title of this post. We took off, had an actually nice flight around. I was watching the compass quite anxciously and after 30 minutes or so we’d returned to Lake Union. WP_20150513_09_12_34_Pro KopieA muffin and an hour later they told us that they still hadn’t got clearance to start, so I called the whale watching tour to tell them. No way I’d make the boat. They assured me they’d do a full refund, which was nice, but I still was in one hell of a mood.
I started a little call to arms on twitter, to see if I could do anything else to take my mind off my more than miserable temper. Since there was no taxi in sight, I decided to walk towards the hotel, cursing under my breath. Pretty much non-stop, the whole 4 miles.
Back at the hotel I remembered there was another whale watching opportunity up near Seattle, but guess what: The one tour my schedule would have allowed ended their season on May 1st. This was May 13th. But my twitter call to arms had worked. Sara, who I’d met the day before in person for the first time had managed to get off work early. She’d told her boss about my day going bust and basically got told “Go cheer him up!”

Sara, I have to say this again: You saved not only my day, but probably the rest of the week. I don’t think I’d been a fun travelling companion for myself if not for the awesome afternoon that followed. Ever been on vacation, on a roadtrip, all by yourself, in a foul mood? I haven’t, and I don’t like myself in a foul mood on other occasions.

We decided on the Tacoma Zoo, met up on the parking lot and tried to find animals, more or less successfully. Had a great time chatting about animals, travel, work and other stuff.

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The awesome didn’t stop here. After our slightly wet zoo adventure we went to the Anthony’s nearby, had bread with shrimp/artichoke dip, oyster burgers abd Rhubarb Slump for dessert.
ALL THE TASTY FOOD! With a side of more awesome conversation about various topics which I’d love to repeat some time. My Scuttlebutt Pale Ale1 was pretty nice, too. Sara’s Whiskey Sour was more wiskey than sour, though.

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After that it was time to part ways, but not before taking goody selfies and enjoying a hug.

Again, thank you Sara! And Sara’s boss! Thanks for making this the best day of all the days that so cruelly denied me whales! It was awesome even by non-whale-standards!

 

 

No murdercorns where harmed in the creation of this blog post.

Footnotes
  1. I adore that name []

Roadtrip 2015 – Planes, Cars, Space Needles

I’ve warned you, and here it is. I’ll start going into the details fo my vacation a couple of times a week.EosRoadtrip 035

I’d decided to start this vacation as comfortable as possible, so I spent the night before leaving at a hotel at Frankfurt Airport and ate one of the most German things imaginable for dinner. Then I went to bed, slept some, got up early for my hotel breakfast. Thus prepared for the hardships of travel I checked into my flight, boarded it some time later and took off at around 10:30AM GMT+11 to spend 9 hours on a plane. About three movies2 and one sitcom episode later I touched down in Seattle, went through customs and such, picked up my rental car and drove into and through Seattle to my Hotel in the University District.

A bit later I took a cab to Union Park and explored a little, since I had a bit of time left before the first highlight of my vacation. I saw Union Park, seaplanes and Space Needles, which was nice. I ate a hot dog, went down to Centennial Park. So basically just “first time in town random exploring before scheduled things take place”.

At around 6 PM local time3 I finally met up with Jennifer Brozek who is totally awesome and not just because she gave me three books and signed them. Her husband is awesome, too.
As the table we’d booked wasn’t ready yet, we walked around on the observation deck of the needle until they texted us, after which we …well, sat down, ordered food and drinks and chatted about everything and nothing. Mainly travel, writing, food, drinks, travel, more travel, some more writing.4
The fun part is how we know each other. You may not know, but Jennifer is actually a time travelling international jewel thief who wrote and published The Sith Lord of the Rings in 1886. Awesome, huh?  Oh, wait. I just realized I had dinner with someone who has their own wikipedia entry.5

Okay, back to business. Jennifer herself blogged about that day and it’s not the only thing of her you should read, but it’s a start.

WP_20150511_19_08_54_ProWe had a lovely dinner6 and chat, it was a great way to start my vacation. But it also was a long day and I went back to my hotel to sleep the sleep of the sleepy. EosRoadtrip 017

 

See you on Monday when I tell you about Etsy-steampunk strap-on’s.

Footnotes
  1. German time, which is usually US West Coast + 9 hours []
  2. Taken 3, Kingsman, Into the Woods []
  3. I’d been up for about 19 hours, give or take []
  4. I might have a surprise related to that for you some time later []
  5. achievement unlocked []
  6. try the wild king salmon, it’s really good! []

I find the term IRL offensive.

Well, not the term as such, but its common usage.
I know where it’s coming from and it may even make a certain sense, but still. I dislike it. A lot. Assuming you all know the term I’ll spare you the definition, you all know where google is.

Referring to your local social circle, be it at school, at work or at your gym as “IRL” (in real life) may seem logical at first, but – to me – it’s actually rather bad taste, and in some situations downright offensive.
The fact that it’s often used carelessly makes it even worse in my opinion.

By using that term when talking to people you primarily speak online, you basically imply that you don’t consider those people part of your life.
They are gone when you disconnect or turn away.
You insinuate that they don’t have an impact on you, that you don’t actually care about them. They are not important. Not real.
I don’t assume that everyone using that term uses it with intent to hurt, harm or offend, I just guess people don’t give much thought to it. Maybe we all can try to stop doing that.

Or as a friend said: People seem to have this weird sense of separation, as if the technology prevents meaning. Especially when, in reality, the opposite is actually true. Technology enables a lot more than it takes away.

Just think about the people you’ve met “online”, those you talk to regularly. Those you’d never have met if it wasn’t for the internet that you so cruelly separate from your “real life” by using those three letters.
Would you be the same person without them? Would you have experienced the same things? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have.

So yes, all of those, all of YOU are part of my real life. Part of what made me who I am.
I will not debase that by sticking the IRL sticker to things or people that just happen to be geographically close enough to me so I can interact with them without the internet between us.

I’m not saying it’s wrong per se to distinguish between your internet interactions and whatever you do with your body. Just please, please don’t go around saying one is less real than the other.

There are enough words out there to make up your own terms of it, if you really feel you have to.

In the end, do what makes you happy, but think of what the people on the other side might feel. They’re real, too.

Prospective-Buyer-shaming.

Because I’m having so mich “fun” with this and the “fun” continues, here’s an annotated transcript of one “conversation” with a prospective buyer.

I put something (new, original packaging, sealed) up for sale.

Price on amazon: Between 200 and 210 Euro.
My asking price, because I know people are going to negotiate: 190 Euro

April 24th:
“Hey, is the watch still available?”
“Yup, still here. :)”
“Well, it’s mine if it’s still there on May 1st!”
Interesting. That’s practically agreeing to my asking price. In fact, among tradesmen in Germany that conversation, in writing, amounts to a binding contract.
“Okay, I’ll let you know if I sell it before then, can’t make promises.”
“Of course. We’ll have to talk about the price first. I can get a new one for 5% more on amazon.”
Waaait a minute. Didn’t you already agree to my price? So my reflexive reply isn’t all that surprising:
“Correct. Or you could have a new one from me for 5% less than amazon.”

May 1st:
I decide to let him know that it’s still available. Their reply:
“I thought so, considering your price. Make a suggestion”
Uhm. Yeah, antagonizing the guy you might want to buy something from is always a good idea, right?
My suggestion is part of the add. Looking forward to your interesting suggestion for a pick-up price. I’ll have you know that your first messages were more than a bit misleading, in that case.”
“Well, you won’t get rid of it for more than 150€.”
“Good luck finding another one then.”

Newsflash: I’d love to sell the thing for a decent price, even a bit lower than my asking price. No problem at all. But if you’re an ass about it, I’d rather give it away than sell it to you.

Which I just did. I gave it to a coworker who’d expressed interest in it. He’ll do me a favor some time, or maybe not. He’s cool, he gave me a few leftover Dollars so I have some small change on my road trip for bus fare or such in the first days.

And I don’t have to deal with stupid impertinent jackasses anymore.

 

I hate selling stuff.

Considering my line of work that might be a bit weird. Well, it’s not the sale as such that annoys me, but I don’t find a  lot of fun in negotiating, dickering, haggling. That part annoys me.
I’m the “give me a fair price and I’ll buy/sell and be done with it” type.

The good news is: working in b2b sales for about ten years has paid off a little. I don’t react like a deer in the headlines anymore when people try to push the price in either direction.

Still, I despise having to go through the process of selling anything in my free time. The stories my sister told of selling off some excess stuff before moving to Kuala Lumpur in August confirm that, and right now I have a new adventure in selling stuff on ebay and the likes. Not exactly like this one, but still.

I’ve come by a smart watch for Android phones recently. Won it in a sales promo directly from the manufacturer, sealed, original packaging, never used or even opened. Practically fresh from the factory.

So I put it up for sale. Description lists a few features and confirmed that it’s the real deal, unopened and all. I put up pictures of the unbroken seal on the box, too.

Asking price was about 5% below the cheapest legit retail price on amazon at the time.

First offer: “Would you be willing to swap for a <type of android tablet>?”
My reply: “Sorry, not interested in that sort of stuff.”
Then I did a quick research and was thoroughly annoyed when I find out the price of the tablet is about half that of the watch.

Second offer was “swap for a smart watch of a different brand”. I didn’t even look it up before I declined. I’m not much of a wrist watch person anyway and I don’t really need or want one with additional features that requires daily recharging.

I didn’t even reply to the third offer, which was almost 40% below my asking price. Or the one who offered 30% off but is in a different country.

One decent offer – price wise – arrived, but unfortunately he didn’t want it shipped, lives about an hour away and I’m not really scheduled to be near his place in the next few weeks. Or months, for all I know.

The following dialogue annoyed me a little, but I’d also had a few beers *cough*.

Them: “Hello, I’m interested in the watch, how about [15% off asking price] including shipping.”
Me: “No, sorry.”
Them: “What did you have in mind?”
Me: “I negotiate enough in my day job. I didn’t put up an asking price in a classified ad just to sell it for 15% less including shipping”

Yes, I was pissed. Another one amused and annoyed me equally, and I’ll probably sell to that guy in a few days.

“Hey, is the watch still available?”
“Yup, still here. :)”
“Well, it’s mine if it’s still there on May 1st!”
“Okay, I’ll let you know if I sell it before then, can’t make promises.”
“Of course. We’ll have to talk about the price first. I can get a new one for 5% more on amazon.”
“Correct. Or you could have a new one from me for 5% less than amazon.”

 

Pro tip 1: If you want to push the price down, don’t state your intention to buy in a way that could be read as “I’ll buy it. 100%. Unless you give it to someone else.”
Pro tip 2: Don’t use a negotiation point that goes both ways.

Let’s see what happens. I don’t depend on the money, but I’d rather give it to a friend for half the price or give it away for christmas than sell to someone who is almost impertinent. I’m willing to sell for less than I asked (grudgingly) but jeez, be nice or reasonable.

Setting up shop!

So what’s new in Crusoetown?

My vacation draws near, it’s less then 20 days till wheels-up. I think I’ve got my vacation supplies and accessories all in order, I got my tickets and vouchers, too.

So that’s grand. Work is going smoothly as well, and a week and a bit ago I decided to set up a facebook page for my redbubble portfolio.

It started out as sort of an experiment but then I accumulated more than 60 likes in a few days, held my first raffle and got a few customer action shots.

The Link is https://www.facebook.com/ShotByOlli/ and I would be rather grateful if you gave it a brief looking over and maybe even a like and some interaction even if you don’t want to spent all your hard-earned cash on pictures I took. No biggie, I’m doing this for fun, I don’t need to make a living off it. Although I will be flattered if you like something enough that you spend money on it.

Here’s the canvas print I ordered for myself:

Someone else ordered a couple of postcards, and apparently they’re rather neat:

So maybe I’ll see you there?

Home in your dreams

This one came to me when Sara Amundson tweeted a pre-flash-fiction-reading selfie of her at home, stating that was “where the Murdercorn wig lives”.

It, quite obviously, can be sung1 to the tune of Home on the Range

Oh, give me a home where the Murdercorn roam
And the gore and the entrails, they spray
Where often is heard a bloodcurdling word
And the children cry out in dismay.


Chorus:

Hunt, hunt in your dreams
Where the gore and the entrails, they spray
Where often is heard a bloodcurdling word
And the children cry out in dismay.

The peace it was pressed from the place you get rest
It’s not likely it’ll ever return
To the dreams in your slumber where monsters now lumber
And everything to nightmares they turn.

Chorus
But don’t be afraid, someone comes to your aid
To put an end to the monsters you dream
They hunt the jabberwock all around the clock
To make sure the human race is safe.

Chorus

My brain works in mysterious ways.

What is that all about?

Well, Sara Amundson, the original Murdercorn and mother of monsters ((whom you should totally follow on twitter)) is working on publishing her Urban Fantasy trilogy Dreamer.
It’s all about monsters coming alive from nightmares. Some of those exist as flash fiction2 and some even as video readings.

You know the mother of dragons:

 

where are my dragons

But do you know the mother of monsters?

where are my monsters

Footnotes
  1. more or less []
  2. and you can totally request your own. I got one! []

No school today!

Because it has been an awful week1 I’m giving you a day off from Olli’s Saturday School.

Instead I’m providing you with this entertaining twitter conversation that probably tells you more about me than I care to admit.

Antje, Kiera: I love you guys!

 

Footnotes
  1. and because I’m too lazy to think of a lesson right now []

I was not “sad” hearing of Leonard Nimoy’s death.

Stop. Polarizing title. Bear with me. Let me explain a little.

I’ll start by copying/paraphrasing my tweets on the subject of Leonard Nimoy’s death on Friday, May 27th 2015.

I wasn’t sad. Leonard Nimoy passed away in relative peace, after a long, creative and possibly rather awesome life. Definitely a full life. I watched a lot of Star Trek, as with many others Spock was one of my favorite characters for various reasons, from being smart to the “Vulcan Death Grip”1

But no, I’m not actually sad.
Some reasons for that might be:
– I didn’t know him personally.
– He didn’t die with having a great deal of uncompleted works. He didn’t die of a tragic accident or anything like that.

Yes, he was a great man, and the world is worse for not having him anymore.
But we do have his legacy. An awesome one of that.
I for one am glad we have it. He has all my respect for what he did.
My sincere condolences to any who actually knew him.
But sad? Eh. Not REALLY.

Which brings me to an interesting point. We’ve had, naturally, quite a few celebrity deaths in the past months, years. Even if we don’t want to think about it, they are not actually immortal.

And I get how some people are more touched by the life and work of one or the other celebrity than others. Some people are more sad about “Spock” being gone than others.

You know what? That’s totally fine! And if you need a hug because he’s gone, I’ll totally give you one. Three.

One observation irks me though. In the past, people have stated their disdain for people mourning celebrity deaths like the loss of a family member. Or claiming that it’d depreciate the death of a random person or the “proverbial starving child in Africa” or any single victim of a civil war, etc.

Some of these, especially the very vocal ones, now publicly cry rivers about the death of a celebrity they apparently think was worth more than others.

I’ll be right here, judging them.

So yeah, I am not actually sad about Leonard Nimoy’s death. That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. Or that I don’t respect anyone elses grief about it. I do.

Hell, I’ll be on the business end of that sentiment rather sooner than later, when a celebrity dies whose books I pretty much devoured between age 16 and 25, until I caught up with his writing. I’ll probably have to take the week off when that happens.

 

Footnotes
  1. I know, I know []

All the right fur in all the right places

Because you know I’m all about that box,
‘Bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box

Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no LOLcat
But I can purr it, purr it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that meow meow that all the kits chase
All the right fur in all the right places

I see the videos with all them kittycats
We know that shit ain’t real
Come on meow, make it stop
If you got fluffy pawsies, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is furry
From the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size
Sit in boxes you hardly fit into it just feels right
You know I won’t be no match-stick leg skinny-ass Greyhound dog,

So, if that’s what’s you’re into
I’ll stick my head inside a hole

Because you know I’m all about that box,
‘Bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box

I’m bringing cuddly back
Go ahead and tell them skinny kittens meow
No, I’m just purring I know you think I’m fat,
But I’m here to tell you that,
Every inch of me is furry from the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size
Sit in boxes you hardly fit into it just feels right
You know I won’t be no match-stick leg skinny-ass Greyhound dog,

So, if that’s what’s you’re into
I’ll stick my head inside a hole

Because you know I’m all about that box,
‘Bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box, no catbed
I’m all ’bout that box, ’bout that box

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