Tag Archives: thrift

Tis The Season For Costumes

Each year, a bunch of the businesses in town open their doors for trick-or-treating. The kids enjoy dressing up, so last year I took the older two round the town center for the candy collection. Participating places put a pumpkin in their window, so parents and kids know which establishments to go in. I think Oldest was a Jedi, and Middlest had a Hello Kitty-themed outfit. I went as Indiana Jones.

We’re planning to take some kids this Friday (a day early, but it’s when the stores are doing it). The appearance of a Darth Vader mask, and my retrieval from the garage of my own Darth Vader voice-changer helmet (IIRC five quid from a charity shop in England) makes it sound like we’ll have two Darth Vaders this year.

Youngest (assuming he goes) and Middlest were fighting over a lion coat (mane on the hood, and a tail dangling down from the back. It fits Youngest better. Middlest’s outfit seems to be sorted out already, she now has the Vader mask, and a black dress. It’s pretty cute. Youngest has been running around the house with the voice-changer helmet today, and he really enjoyed it. It might be difficult for him to not wear it on Friday, to give it up to someone else. There was talk of someone taking him separately. He does like the roaring, though, so he might end up being ok as a lion.

There has been talk of Oldest or even myself wearing the Vader helmet. I suspect Oldest will get it, he has an appropriate black cloak. At one point today, Oldest and Youngest both had Darth headgear. I tried to get Oldest to say “I shall call him Mini-Me”, but of course he is far, far too young for the reference (I checked, and he’s far, far too young for the full trailer to the first Austin Powers movie). He didn’t want to say it in a Doctor Evil voice, but he was ok trying to say it in a Darth Vader voice. Once.

Bit late for all of us to be evil Star Wars characters (“Sith Happens”). Not quite sure what I’ll go as. Oldest has an Iron Man mask. That’d go with Youngest being a lion, wouldn’t it? They’re totally from the same show. (Or I could go as Gomtuu, except no, way too hard.)

Hmm, decisions need to be made. (or, in other words, much begging for ideas). My wizard’s staff got dismantled a while ago, but the stick may suffice on its’ own, and I think I saw the hat recently. That’s a possibility.

We shall see.

Book Notebook

After a fair bit of searching (with some slight reorganising thrown into the mix), I have found my little yellow book, there I keep lists of certain books, to aid me when buying books.

This, and DVDs, are where I start to miss having a PDA or smartphone. If I could find them and the right accessories, I could probably resurrect them, but I don’t think they are trustworthy enough to make it worth the effort. Though, to be fair, pages have started trying to come out of the notebook, so never say never…

Anyway, as the notebook was misplaced for a while, it needed some updating. I’m surprised how few books by David Baldacci I’m now missing (if you don’t count his books for kids, then it’s fewer than the ones I’ve actually read, but shhh, don’t tell anyone).

Some authors are too prolific for me to have in the notebook: Stephen King, PG Wodehouse and Isaac Asimov would take up far far far too many pages. Printed out a list of Stephen King books, copied from Wikipedia, and ticked off from lists, shelves and a box. Surprising how few gaps there still are. Still quite a few I have left to read. While I was at it, I found out about the existence of this

Two new additions to the notebook tonight are series of books, of which I only have one book in each series. One is Louis L’Amour’s Sackett saga, the other is the Hornblower series. Hornblower is kind of a benchmark, which I hear Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series surpasses (I’m not surprised – it’s hard to beat “Jack! You have debauched my sloth!”), but as a benchmark, I probably ought to give it a go.

How to ultimately organise all my books so I can keep track of what I’ve got, and not to accidentally buy any more doubles, could prove to be tricky.

Goodbye, Thrift Store

Found out this week that one of the thrift stores in town is closing. Bit of a surprise, as they were hiring new staff just a month or two ago. Seems they’re owned by a larger branch in another town, who didn’t renew the lease on the place, and they don’t seem to be looking for new premises in town. So it seems we’ll go back to the status quo of 4 thrift stores in the town proper, and one on the road out (that we don’t go to often, because it’s a bit too far to walk, really, especially with kids).

When they opened, they had a sealed pack of the initial set of a Star Trek card game I’ve been collecting since 1994 (twas a 1995 starter deck), and actually got a rare I needed (Worf). Since then, I’ve got countless books (some for me, some for kids), some Lego and Duplo and other kids toys, and, of course, the monster TV I picked up last week.

Everything was 50% off when we went in earlier in the week (which was when we found out they were closing), so I spent less than $1.40 on 5 books (the Chronicles of Narnia, less Dawn Treader and Prince Caspian) and 3 videotapes (The Land Before Time before there were gazillions of sequels, a Young Indiana Jones, and The Fox And The Hound, a Disney movie I had a book of part of when I was younger, but have never actually seen).

So, goodbye, Salvation Army thrift store. It was nice having you around. All the best to your soon-to-be-former staff.

Thrift Score

A day or two ago, I took Oldest and Middlest with me to the library, as I had to pick up a book that had come in for me.

On the way home, we stopped in at a couple of thrift stores, as is fairly common for us to do. We got Oldest a couple of books, and Middlest picked herself up some little Nerf contraption (she’s figured out how to ask for a toy from the Free Toys bin before she can be stopped). I considered getting her a stick horse-giraffe, before deciding it would be best to consult with Those At Home about it, first.

There was also a Rather Large Telly, which I described to Those At Home as having a screen size rivalling the size of picture we’re getting from our projector downstairs. The TV was on hold til Thursday morning.

So, this morning, I headed back over there. A bit later than I meant to, getting closer to 11 when they opened at 9.30, but still morning.

Both TV and horse were still there, and the TV still had the “on hold til Thursday morning” note stuck to it. I asked a lady who worked there about the TV, at what point in the morning it would stop being on hold. The person who had holded it had apparently called, and sounded like she’d cancelled the hold, but the message was a bit unclear, so they were contacted just to make sure. They didn’t want it after all.

So the next question is, “How much is it?” When I’d mentioned it at home, the instructions were “If it’s still there, I’d pay $30-$40 for it”. I figured if I’d needed to, I might be able to squeeze a bit extra out of my own reserves.

What I was told next, wasn’t the price, however. The person who’d donated it said there was a problem with it, that often after a time of working (which could be from 5 minutes to 2 hours), it would go dark and unresponsive, and you’d have to unplug it from the wall and plug it back in, to get it working again.

Could be tolerable, could be the other thing. All of a sudden, $30-$40 was sounding a bit much on a gamble.

“Well, I don’t want to spend too much on it, if it’s going to have problems like that”, I said. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d charged $15-$20 for it. I’m glad I kept my trap shut, she offered it to me for $5. If it cut out a couple of times during a movie, it’d probably still be worth that. “I’ll take it for that”, I said.

Apparently they’d sold a working one for $100.

I was told that if it didn’t work for us, to not bring it back, but to bring the receipt for a refund. Well now there’s absolutely no risk. Plus it had remote and manuals.

While she was running the till for the TV transaction, I went and got the horse. Said $1.50 on it. I’d fished out $1 from the quarters bag, and was reaching in to fish for the other .50. “Just a dollar”, she said. Can’t argue with that. Welcome to New-Favourite-Person-ville.

Getting the TV into the car was tricky. Another person who was helping in the shop, helped me out to the car with it. We tried a bunch of things to try and get it in the car. Eventually I had to let the back seats down, which gave just enough extra space to stand it up diagonally in the back (it didn’t need to overlap the back seat much). From the driver’s seat, I could only see slivers of the back window. Fortunately, it wasn’t very far to get home.

We stood the TV up on the dining room table (on a towel, to protect the table), thinking we might need to set the TV face-down on the tables, to get the back open. The TV was slightly wider than the table (inspection of the manual revealed it to be 55 inches). It ran fine all afternoon without going dark and unresponsive. My uncle-in-law researched the problem, and a few people have had it, with a lot of speculation about what the cause of the problem might be. Overheating is a likely suspect, with someone solving their problem by rigging up a computer fan to the back of their TV.

We turned it on, it worked, hooked up a laptop and the kids watched a whole film, then my wife and I fiddled with document layout for service books (well, she did all the work, I answered a couple of questions and helped look through it). We set up a “Welcome Home” screensaver for when my mother-in-law returned home. We eventually had to take the thing off the table, so we could eat the evening meal at the table. The only problems we’d encountered were the colour being set to a weird setting, and some background bits of DVD looking pixelly.

This evening, I tried hooking up the Blu-Ray player to it, mainly to see what resolution it could handle. We’d hooked up the player to a High-Def TV that was only capable of 720p (watching a 1080p signal sent to it was quite interesting). Initially, I forgot to change teh settings, but The Lego Movie Blu-Ray definitely worked. It actually resumed from where I’d stopped it a few days ago, after I’d tested the sound-without-picture. I switched the player settings to 1080p. And the TV handled it just fine. Tried a little more of The Lego Movie, then some of Star Trek Into Darkness. Looking good!

So, $5 for a working 55-inch TV, and we can finally watch Blu-Rays at home. I call that a win.

The challenge now, is to find a place to put it.