Archive for July, 2010

Sign Near Our House

29 July 2010 at 6:27 pm
by Jonah

Dumpster Diver

21 July 2010 at 10:41 am
by Berck

I woke up around 1:30am last night to the sounds of someone rummaging through the dumpster. It sounded like he was removing glass bottles and tossing them into a pickup truck. The dumpster’s only 20 feet or so from our apartment, and the noise was loud through our open window. The dumpster is situated in such a way that you can’t actually see it from our window. At first I thought I would get dressed and go tell whoever it was to go away, but figured I’d see if I could get a look at him from the kitchen window. The kitchen window only provides a view about half the dumpster, and only if I stand on my toes and lean over the sink, which I did. And only then, through several tree branches. There appeared to be several dogs lying around the dumpster, eating trash. At first I went back to the bedroom to tell Jonah that it was coyotes. She said, “Really?” “Well, actually, they look too big for Coyotes. And they’re kind of fluffy. Like Huskies.”

At this point, I realized that dogs in the dumpster seemed really unlikely, given it’s size, and their dubious ability to open it. Also, something didn’t seem right about those dogs. It took me a couple minutes to find my glasses, and then I went back out to the kitchen. With corrected vision, the Coyote/Huskies immediately morphed into black bear cubs.

The cubs were awfully cute, snacking on items that Mom leaned into the dumpster and tossed out. She was one of the largest black bears I’ve ever seen. She had no trouble leaning into the dumpster while standing on her hind legs, and pulling out trash, something that I have difficulty doing. I went back and told Jonah that it was, indeed, a black bear and two cubs. This got her out of bed to go watch. They carefully examined, then crushed a pizza box, tossed bottles, and rummaged eating whatever they could find. One of the cubs climbed the tree outside our kitchen window. Amusingly, Jonah went and locked the patio door, which amused me.

After they finished with our dumpster, they moved on to the dumpster at the children’s center next door. How nice of us people to leave food in convenient metal boxes all over the neighborhood.

Economics of Books

10 July 2010 at 1:25 pm
by Berck

So, it turns out that used books are worth almost nothing, unless, of course, you want to buy them.

Dad’s been sending us a lot of his books, so we’ve been trying to make room by selling books we don’t want. Most of the books we don’t want are going for $0.01 on Amazon. It turns out it’s not profitable to sell books for $0.01 on Amazon unless you sell at least 40 books per month, because:

Amazon charges $2.34 commission on the sale of a $0.01 book. They also charge the buyer $3.99 for shipping, which they pass on to you. This means that you get a total of $1.66. If the book weighs more than 3 ounces, it will cost more than $1.66 to ship the book. If you’re a pro-seller, you can pay them $39.99/month, and they’ll waive $0.99 of that that $2.34. That means you then have to ship the book for less than $2.65, which is totally doable. But we’re not pro sellers, so we went looking for a good used book store.

(Note, here, that if you’re looking to buy used books on Amazon, even $0.01 books will cost you $4.00 because of the $3.99 shipping. Which is why you can often do better at a place like Half Price. But you have to go there. And pay tax.)

Half Price books only pays pennies on the dollar for books they buy from you, but they’ll at least accept anything, even if they’re only going to recycle it. Unfortunately, there are no Half Price Books in Colorado, apparently because of a trademark issue. So we went to the Book Rack, which appeared to be our best bet. (Amusingly, we bought a book from Half Price in Oklahoma that had, at some point, been sold by the Book Rack in Colorado Springs, according to the stamp inside.)

We brought a box of 25 books to the Book Rack. They were willing to buy 3 of them for $3.00, or give us $9 in-store credit for them. The in-store credit has a catch, though, and you can only use 50% of the in-store credit on any purchase. We roamed around the store and managed to find 6 books we wanted, for a total of about $18, costing us a total of $9.

Goal: Get rid of some books.
Actual Result: We brought 25 books to the Book Rack, and left with 28 books and $9 poorer. I’m not sure we succeeded.