Monday, December 01, 2008

Obama, Ebay and where's the music?

Long time, no blog. A lot to catch up on! Here we go. . .

POOR FEEDBACK FOR EBAY: I'm not a very active buyer or seller on eBay, but the auction site has always been fun to visit, even if I don't buy anything. It also gives one a good example of what kinds of rare items are out there and how much they usually cost. But I don't think I'll be buying anything listed on eBay anytime soon, and I want to explain why.

Years ago, eBay began the “Paypal” system, where prospective buyers and sellers could send out funds through their credit cards (using Paypal as a middleman between accounts). I never signed up for it, preferring to buy items with a check or money order. Well, guess what? From now on, Paypal will be the only way to buy anything on eBay. And that sucks. This new policy will actually prevent some people from bidding. By making eBay a Paypal-only site, the people who can't (or don't want to) use their credit cards will be shut out. That's potentially a huge loss of bidders! Why are they doing this?

I wish I could send eBay an e-mail about my concerns. But when you click on the “contact us” tab, you are presented with a series of statements which they think you want to ask them. (“How do I bid? Can I take back a bid?”, etc.) Unfortunately, none of these statements is what I want to say. But I can't do anything about it. There's no direct e-mail address for eBay! ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SITES ON THE INTERNET DOESN'T HAVE A DIRECT E-MAIL ADDRESS! I actually tried to type in something like, “There isn't an option for what I want to say, s***heads.”

So they take away my ability to bid, and there's no way I can talk to them about it, which is evidence that they really don't care about the hundreds, if not thousands, who will be shut out. Thanks a lot, s***heads. This is sad. I'm watching a good site get a little bit worse. This change just isn't good. It's based on pure greed. It only benefits Paypal, not us. Ebay, if you read this- please rethink your strategy.

OVER AT LAST: There's not much to say about the recent election that hasn't already been said. (Except perhaps, “whew!”) We made history, and now Barack Obama will inherit all the glory and pain of being a U.S. President. I wish him well & hope we can help him change our country for the better.

I think the best judge of a president’s character will be if he or she is willing to give a press conference. Remember press conferences? They were a quaint little tradition begun by John F. Kennedy. The president would meet with the press. Reporters would ask him questions, and he would try to answer them. Yes, that was a pretty cool thing, but I don’t blame you if you can’t remember. We haven’t had a real press conference since George W. Bush, the worst president in our nation’s history, came into office. He was so terrible that even the Republican candidate for president in 2008 called for big changes.

If we can just do a little bit better in the next four years, everything should work out OK. Something tells me that that won’t be too difficult. The bar is already so low that things can only get better.

If you like political commentary, You might enjoy reading some comments from the blog of my friend John Bruno:

In his concession speech, McCain said the fault was his. Yep. His first major decision as a presidential candidate was choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. With all her faults, this isn't one you can blame on her. McCain's decision was impulsive -- and he continued to be just that throughout the campaign. Up front was how he dealt with the financial crisis. Whereas Obama was calm and insightful, McCain was erratic -- foreshadowing how he might govern. Voters picked up on the different styles of the candidates and eventually became comfortable with Obama as a potential president. When McCain called a press conference to say he was suspending his campaign and maybe skipping the first presidential debate to work on the financial crisis, Obama responded by saying a president needs to multi-task. A lot of us can identify with multi-tasking -- and a potential president should be aware of that.

WEEKENDS WITH FRED: Unfortunately, my cable company has given in. “Mr. Rogers” is now only being shown on weekends. Sigh. I'm just glad they're showing it at all. While we may not get a week's worth of Fred, we can at least enjoy his classic episodes once in a while. That's more than can be said about many other fine kids' shows. Remember “Captain Kangaroo?” Where is he now? (Yes, I know he's in heaven, but I'm talking about his show!) If we can only get our fix of Fred on the weekends, at least it's better than nothing. Let's hope his show continues to be rerun until the end of time. You can peek at the Mister Rogers schedule for 2008-2009 at the Family Communications Web page (but keep in mind that only one of the five episodes will be shown if your station only has the weekend version of MRN):

PEEKING AT HD: One of my video recorders is equipped with a cable box that can pick up some of the HDTV channels offered by my cable company. I've been recording and watching them a bit. The picture does indeed look good, even on my tiny 10-inch screen. The picture switches easily from widescreen to small screen, depending on how the original material was taped. I recorded something on PBS that wasn't originally taped for the widescreen HDTV format, yet it still looked quite good. So far, so good. The big switch begins in February.

THAT JOKE ISN’T FUNNY ANYMORE: At the beginning of this year, I jokingly said that 2008 would be the year that the music stores closed forever. I was kidding. But now the Virgin Megastore nearest to me is going to close up shop sometime in January. Yes, they’re having sales, but again, the prices usually aren’t too much lower than usual. So as another one bites the dust, let’s count up how many other music stores are near me. Well, there’s Best Buy - but Best Buy doesn’t always have the best selection. There’s Circuit City, but they have the same problem. So aside from those two stores, that makes. . .uh. . .zero stores nearby.

ZERO!! My gosh, all the good music stores near me are now gone! There are some good ones further away, but man, what a drive! This really is bad news. I think every town ought to have at least one good music store. Now, I need to leave town to browse the record aisles. For more on this subject, read about the closing of Tower Records in this 2007 post:

ON YOUTUBE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM KERMIT: The YouTube page continues to be sporadically updated with various gems from Sesame Street and. . .well, from Sesame Street. :) I’m afraid you folks will have to wait for me to branch out and post some other gems over there. You will note that some of the clips come to us courtesy of Sesame At last Sesame Workshop is officially sharing clips from its vast library. (Just in case you didn’t know, you folks with fast Web connections should take a peek at Sesame and enjoy highlights from the past 40 years of the show. Us folks here with slow connections will just have to load up our DVD copies of “Old School” Sesame Street.) Check out the "Youtube page" link on the left to see some of the clips.