Friday, July 01, 2005

Almost Certainly Mad

Well, I've gone and done something crazy. I wish I could say that it kept me so busy that that's why I haven't posted in a dog's age, only I can't because that's another story entirely.

My kid, G, is going to take a full-time photography course at the end of July. For this he will need a non-digital SLR camera with manual controls. Well, you just go try to find something like that, knowing something about it. There are digital-out-the-wazoo, either/or manual focus, manual or automatic flash, blah blah blah bells and whistles we don't need. A good old fashioned, tough-work, learn the hard way camera is a gem nowadays. I determined that I'd have to buy something used.

I have some swell cameras but they are family heirlooms and cannot be operated without intensive training. And I can't replace them. And I keep them locked up. So I'm not passing them on to the next generation unless or until G proves his ability to jump through hoops of fire. If I ever do a-tall.

But I know one specific kind of camera that is just a marvelous workhorse of early technology. And swell and German with a real leather case that is still ergonomically swank even today. My dad had one in the early 50's and kept it until he passed it to me in my last year of undergrad when I won a photography fellowship. It is absolutely the GREATEST, and I would kill anybody who damaged it, including my kid. So I got a bright idea: eBAY! Maybe there's still another one somewhere in the world!

Yes, about three weeks ago I started looking on eBay for this model. Of course i know exactly what it's supposed to look like and what kind of lens and shutter it should have and what's wrong with any of the pictures if the camera's not right. And for two weeks and more I got outbid in auctions because I couldn't bite the $$$ bullet. But I kept track of what they were going for, and therefore figured out the reasonable range.

After I had lost all the auctions, I kept looking only to find that NOBODY had any more. It was the end of life for auctions on this camera model. For another week I looked, and there was absolutely nothing. I decided I had missed the boat and I would NEVER AGAIN have an opportunity. (This is a typical part of eBay syndrome. You can work yourself up until you make yourself sick with competitiveness, worry, hyperventilation, jealousy and disappointment.)

Well, this morning I decided I should noodle again, and found some. And I knew what they should go for. And I found an auction on what looked to be as good a specimen as I'd bid on before. Only it was still available at a relatively low price. Should I bid and then fight with a million people over it again, or did the buy it now price make sense? Well, it did.

So then I watched it for a while, knowing any minute somebody was gonna bid and it would quickly go sky-high and I'd have blown it again. So then I called the seller and asked questions. It was missing all attachments (that's fine; I already have them all). it was missing the manual. (Okay; I have one.) It had a broken crease in the case. No problem. The main thing was that the lens was good and the whole thing was in working order.

So I struck. Now, it'll be a week or so before it comes, giving me time to have it rebuilt or fixed or teach G how to use it.

But that's not what I did that was almost certainly mad. NO; I kept going looking for corny things on eBay. It has enormous, seductive entertainment value. There is nothing people are too proud to sell on eBay.

A couple of weeks ago when I was stalking the camera I also peeked in on knitting needles. (You will know why if you look a few entries back and see the instand car-ma disaster.) A few were worth bidding on, but when I figured out what they would cost new in a store and then added whatever shipping charges the sellers proposed, almost none of the items made sense. So I balked. Then today I went back just out of a smidgeon of curiosity.

I found a whole RAFT of needles of various kinds. It was a smorgasbord of knit-mania. Only problem was, the seller seemed to be a guy who had no idea what was there or what to tell about it. Some plastic, some metal. "some are thin and some are fat." That was about it. But CHEAP? Yeah. And, but, uh, from the UK. I put on my calculation cap again. There must be at least 30 pairs of needles there. If you bought new, even cheap needles at, say, $3 or $4/pr., you might spend $100. And these were offered en masse at 4.99 pounds sterling. So even if you paid for the postage, if you could win them at the low asking price (not bidding higher), it could be a deal.

I waited until there was about 1 minute and some seconds left, and no one else bid. Of course, what was going through my mind was, "What if they're all SINGLES of a pair and none of them match or they're all of the same gauge?" Yeah, but. Hey, 4.99, which on today's exchange rate was less than $9. For a whole bucket 'o' needles! The seconds ticked away, and I bid. And a cool thing about bidding at the last minute is, you have instant gratification (if you win)--or instant non-gratification.

Well of course I won. Who else would be dim bulb enough to go after such a harebrained scheme?

Now well wait for the post and see what a disaster it was. And when the camera comes, I can take pictures of the needles with traditional 35mm film, if I can remember how to set the focus and shutter speed.


At 7/11/2005 11:27 AM, Blogger Tuesday said...

What can I say? That's a bucket load full o' needles. Also you *could* have had them sent on to me and I would have forwarded them.

And did you get anymore eyelash yarn?

At 7/12/2005 12:51 AM, Blogger sputnik said...

Oh, my dearest. I did think of that. But you know you cannot bring them on a plane. (Terrorist foolishness.) And you ARE coming this summer sometime, yes? And the shipping was cheap, and unbelievably fast arrival by small packet post. In fact, as fast as some US shipments that left the same day. I received needles today (brilliant if not perfect--at the least, 45 actual usable pairs! Will be perfect for multiple people in charity knitting projects!) Packet was a stuffed cardboard poster tube. Well done. Matt was thrilled to help sort.


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