Thursday, November 8, 2007

Christmas Forest

So Amy and I moved into a new house recently. We really like it, and are looking forward to having family over for the holiday gatherings. The previous owner left us a number of things in the form of small decorative shelves on the wall, towels in one of the bathrooms, flower pots, and even a wall rack to hold several candles. Those are all great, but the strangest thing he left was not found until we had been in the house for a while and started to organize and move things to the attic space. What did I find up there? I found six, 6, VI, yes six!, 4′-6″ pre-lit artificial Christmas trees in their boxes!

What does one do with six small Christmas trees? I have absolutely no idea! But here is where our readers come in: I want ideas on what to do with them this holiday season. I can’t think of anything very original or creative, but I’m sure he had something in mind when he bought them. Then again, he left them behind, so maybe not. But what should we do with them? Ignoring the option to leave them in their boxes and sell them (which is not out of the question…), what kinds of ideas can we come up with?

So, let it rip! Any and all ideas welcome!

(Editor's note: Comments were lost in the migration to Blogger)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

One man’s trash…

So, dear readers, what do you do with old books and CD's that you don't need to read again or don't want anymore? Garage sale? Half-price books? Pitch them? Trade them with a friend? That last one sounds nice, but who has friends that want the very books or music we don't want anymore?

Well, thanks to the world wide web, you can! I stumbled upon two sites last week that really jazzed me, and having tried them, I'm only more jazzed now than I was then.

<REFERRAL DISCLAIMER:> Let me say right up front that if you use the links below and sign up, giving us credit for the referral, we get a free credit on the site you sign up for. However, that's not the reason I'm posting this. If you don't want to give us the referral, that's fine. I just want people to check out the site and realize what a cool system they have set up! <END REFERRAL DISCLAIMER>

So, what are these sites? and

What are they?

These are sites where you list any books, whether paperback, hardcover, audio, or whatever ( or CD's ( that you own but are willing to give away. When someone requests one of the books (for example) on your list, you mail it (typically Book Rate for $2-$3) to the member who wants it. When they get it, they mark it received and you get a credit. Then you can use that credit to request any book listed in their system and the owner ships it to you for free! The same goes for CD's except the shipping is cheaper and the site charges $0.49 per CD that you request. In all it works out to about $1 per CD, half when you mail one and half when you request one.

So what's the catch? Well, I suppose the catch is that, similar to Half Price Books, the selection changes all the time and you can only order what is currently listed by another member. There are currently over 1.6 million books and something like 76 thousand CD's, though the CD site is newer and still growing. However, you can search their entire catalog and add books and CD's that are not listed to your wish list. If a member lists one of your wished for items, you have the chance to request it at that point. In fact, of the 12 books and 20 CD's we initially listed, three books and three CD's were on members' wish lists and were snapped up as soon as we listed them. In a week, we have already mailed seven books out, have received one, and two more are in the mail to us. We just joined the CD site today, so I can't estimate the activity there.

So, as I said before, this really jazzes me. The ability to trade a book or CD you don't want for one you do want, without paying markup for someone in the middle (not that middle men are not useful at times) is great, and is just the kind of thing that is perfect for the world wide web. The "friction" costs in each book transaction (shipping, etc) are low compared to the difference between what you get for selling a book at a garage sale or used book store and what you would pay for a book at a used or new book store. The CD costs are even better.

So, all that to say - Check it out! If you are an avid reader or music buff, this might just be the next best thing to sliced cheese.