Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caught in the Web

Since my last post, things have gone from bad to worse. There's a whole caboodle of people I'd put on the unemployment line if I could. Only an American Corporation could get away with putting out an incomplete product, try to corral everyone into using no one else, writing it's programs to treat everybody else as a "virus" or an "attack". Attack on who? Me and my computer or their corporate bottom line? I think those of us who have had to use their repair services to repair what yet another update of theirs made a mess of and demand we pay for it, spend 20% of the conversation trying to sell yet more products (rather than do the thing you asked them to do-fix it!), we know the answer to that. Especially when 4 hours later, nothing is working right, your passwords are not recognized by any site you normally use, and in the end when you go to fix it your own self, you find out that what was done was exactly the thing you told him not to do: DO NOT INSTALL ANY MORE UPDATES IN MY COMPUTER! Yet there it is. Along with about 50 daily updates you've set your computer to no longer accept because you got sick of having to reprogram everything on a daily basis. Not bad enough, they tell you to charge the whole thing onto the account you have with them because you have so much credit there. At 20%APR or worse. No thank you. Next time something goes wrong, I'm getting a Hewlett-Packard. I'm not as idiotic as I come off. "Daddy" worked in  Data Systems from the time they were so big they filled a room and the tape reels were the size of movie film. I just have no interest in programming computers. It's not my thing. Never was and definitiely never will be.

I'm told I was born singing. OK. Now we're on the right track. Then came designing and drawing with a needle and a thread. Then came reading, then came writing. Yes, I worked in Engineering. Construction Engineering. Meaning all kinds of little drawings and the like of everything that makes real life tick. Computers aren't it. They've been deliberately programmed to fail whenever the issuing entities require income. There are morals and then there is that. I finally got that mess cleaned up and got back to the more beautiful things of this world. Lately, for me, jewelry.

I've been to several merchants on ebay-Canada, California, Honk Kong, other areas of China, Japan, Korea. It takes a while to get the gist of it, but if no one abuses, it's a good thing. You can choose "Buy Now" or "Auction". In either case, whatever your choice, you are asked to committ to purchase (yes, your bid is a committment to pay the price you set if no one offers higher) and then confirm. After that, you have a choice to continue with the same "store" (or vendor) or to pay. Some vendors who run simultaneous auctions allow you to make several purchases before processing for payment. Shipping charges are very important. Today I spent $22. on merchandise, and $40. on shipping. Compared to the local market, I came out ahead.

Ana Silver and chinatown288 combine shipping for all merchandise, and there is not an entire new charge added for each piece, but incremental. Some will ship free on minimum purchase requirements, some add a couple of dollars per each next item in the same order. It's really overall well done, but of course as I usually do, I ran into a few flukes. A merchant decided I "forgot" something at checkout-even though I had already paid for the desired items-and added it to my purchase obligations. Ebay stonewalled me from onset to end. They are working on it now, the em-mail says, so people who are being charged for items they did not in fact "purchase", i.e., contract to pay for and receive, had no recourse.The merchant of course blamed ebay. And round we went. Hello, FTC? (It's we have an issue here....that process is easy by comparison to trying to tell ebay the facts. And the other problem with the same merchant, between only 4 items, took 3 tries to identify the problem purchase. My brain does not function in "numeric".I am on alphabet. Why with all the sites I've been to, all the merchandise received, out of 4 items purchased from this one merchant, one item was the wrong item, one item was placed on my account without my consent. OK, so it was less than $4. US. But I'm not that kind of girl. It would have been much easier to just pay it. But sometimes they get away with it, and sometimes they get me.

A much happier experience has been Jewelry Television. They now pair up with the internet, so you can watch them on the computer, or browse their inventory, and still watch your favorite shows. They are one of my faves at this time. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as travels among their show hosts. I never knew so many various gemstones existed. And I had forgotten just what beauty minds do create. Yes, I've sent a couple of things back, because they showed something I liked better later on. Yup. They let you do that. And once you pick up the phone and call, they aren't all that scary at all.

 Net ordering from  is a little more complex. Things disappear from the screen when there aren't any more left. And if they don't have a lot, they limit the number per each any customer can order. Fair, I'd say. But if you want to use paypal, they only allow one item. If there is a communications problem between ebay and the site, you freak out cause the only thing you can do is contact customer service. Who really are quite fast to respond and understand we all don't want to read the company's operating manual to buy what we choose. And they do clear every purchase with your bank/credit provider. I said in an email, I have to put a cap on my spending, all these little open locks began to show up all over my tv. How did that happen? There are just so many beautiful things to be had, especially now nearing gift giving time, they have some very lovely things. And a gift section, though jewelry industry is funny-run by men, consumed by women. Not much in men's jewelry around. Try finding a ring above size 10.

I can justify my desired path in life-creating. If you buy a work of art, of which jewelry is one, it is because you want to. Not you are forced to pay for it or you can't live. It's totally voluntary. And at the same time, you are feeding masses of people-what can you grow in Siberia besides chrome diopside? And only part of the year at that. Or parts of Africa? Places that are different than the USA, but everybody needs to eat. So I find it perfectly justifiable. It sustains me esthetically, morally, and happily. It's a lot of fun. The website has tutorials on gems, they sell equipment you need to i.d. what's in your Mom's necklace the moment, it's my hobby. But I'm mapping out some designs I want to execute. And with my spine immobilized by pain and additionally burdened by the computer industry's built-in self preservation (even if it's killing me), map them out is about all I can do. I have about a dozen oil paintings which haven't seen the light of the market place yet. Only because I have stopped giving them as gifts and I couldn't even sell a box of Girl Scout Cookies.....sales is just not my thing any more than computer programming. But in that arena too, it's abig mistake to think I'm stupid. Blonde hair doesn't make a blind mind, disabled is not the equivalent of dumb.
But more on other realities-bad & good-another time. I have to get back to my friends on sodahead...not fair to them someone got into my computer, knocked me off Google and tried to put microsft homepages and mail in it's stead, and even had the wrong ISP on me....who's messing with me?Or trying to reroute my info?
That little gig merited a 5 page, very detailed complaint to the "Cyberspace Police" in the Federal Government. I may not be able to do anything about you, but they will. I'm the little guy (well, girl), and I'm disabled and my brother Harry(no he won't rest in peace if something threatens me) will come out of his crypt on Halloween and deal with you. Cause he knows. He knows me. And the way your shennanigans tear the heart out of me. Boo! Hope I can get back here before Halloween. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Not Much of a Gambler

Maybe I'm strange in this day and age, or maybe I have more than enough suspense and stress from everyday things, but I like to maintain some control over my life. I want things to have a certain outcome. Gambling's not the place to do that. I spend a lot of time in contemplation, mentally picking my way around obstacles between me and my intended destination. Gambling on anything doesn't get me there. Sure, I say "I need to win the lottery." But do I play? Well, there's been a joke around about a guy praying to God for years to let him win the lottery. Finally, one day he hears a big booming voice say "Buy a lottery ticket!!!!"
Close, but I'm even worse. I buy the ticket, forget to check it. Sometimes it turns up before it expires. Sometimes the ticket's even been worth a couple dollars (never more than $10.), but uncertainty is not my thing.

I don't gamble when I drive that the other cars are going to follow the rules of the road (maybe even the law) or even exhibit any type of courtesy. I know they won't. I'm always surprised when they actually do drive as though other cars also have a right to be on the road. That's pathetic. I'm always happy when someone just offers me a simple courtesy of not running off the road on a merge. But for the most part, I'm not going to risk my life in the false belief that they'll do the right thing.

Why is it that sometimes since the inception of pay TV, with more channels than ever to watch, they all decide one or two nights a week they have free reign to throw at us any kind of garbage. Is it a secret message for people to get off their far-too-fat (mine included currently)_ _ _ and take out the trash? We'll smell it soon enough if we don't. Meanwhile, what's on the TV stinks. So what to do when your day is mainly spent in too much pain to do much of anything? GO SHOPPING! And that's what I've begun doing over the past month.

That's a gamble too, but far more interesting (and sometimes educational) than anything else. Different than what I'd find at the local K-Mart, WalMart or Target. Maybe pricier often than Penny's and Macy's or even Kohl's. Some things look so much more substantitive and sparkly than they appear in person. Even with a money back guarantee, you still have to repay the return shipping if someone has somehow misrepresented. I don't like to pay for other people's sins. But things are pretty and the information interesting, but a gamble of sorts ina sense. I could buy a few lottery tickets for the amount I've spent shipping things back. Funny how fast they forget to enclose the promised gift with the purchase. Well guess what? I'm out the shipping cost, but no matter how much I like it, it's going back not because it's junk but what came out of the sales persons mouth was.

The question having been posed "Where else can you get this...etc."; I, of course, had to check. It's that thing about not gambling again. I want to know for sure I'm paying the least amount possible for something I think at the moment I must have. I didn't need it before I knew it existed. But now I do, and the quest begins my longest streak of anything resembling habitual gambling: Internet auctions.

In this month of experimentation, I have not to date had any negative reaction to any items I've bid on and won. I begin to worry my luck might run out. Ebay's reputation and success are well deserved. It is a tight-knit ship which opens the door to the world and it has been my good fortune so far to be happy with 90% of what I received.

Last year I made some direct purchases on the internet and the vendors I bought from split 66% happy, 34% the items were a little flimsy by comparison to everyone, paper catalogs included. (I'm an artist. I need various supplies. I'd go broke trying to keep in art canvas at the local crafts store, which are a saving grace in a pinch. All the vendors who have serviced my winning bids have wasted no time in delivering and with a quality I am very pleased with. I'm almost done shopping for Christmas gifts and the multiple people in my life who decided to be born right in the season.

I haven't "won" the bid on everything I selected. I didn't expect to. I have a budget and if someone else really wants it that bad to get in a tit-for-tat thing, I let them win. I wasn't the least upset about that. But something went haywire today and I am furious.

I logged on with a merchant I've made a lot of purchases from and saw an item down to one minute which had not yet been bid on. So I logged my bid. Almost immediately, across my computer screen flashes a competing merchant carrying a similar item for 4.5 times as much and inerferes with my bid because now he's blocked my screen. It was long enough for the clock to run out. That's foul. I will try to track down that malefactor and I will block his access to my computer permanently. When you play dirty pool, that's what needs to be done with you. Especially since Ebay works so well because the people on it are honest and don't resort to dirty tricks. I bid on a couple of site which are off-shoots ("links") to Ebay. Above board. One of the merchants (yes, I read the rules), if there is a last 30 second bid, extends the auction by 30 seconds until the bidding stops. Fair play is the name of the game and I'm very happy to share my money in exchange for their goods. One other site had no bids on a certain item until my bid. Almost immediately on my entry, the bid price went up one slot. Hey-peopel-that-may-be-an-illegal-act. Merchants are not allowed under Federal Law to "one-up" ANY bids, either electronically, personally, or by personnel. Yes, I do my research. I haven't exactly had a sheltered life. I've done my share of Social Work, I watch the news only rarely (same story, different victims, different perps). I can't do much about most of it except write my Congressman or the UN if I know a way to prevent a bad thing.

I've wondered what it is about people stealing that I find so despicable I want to shoot them. They have not only accessed something they had no right to have, they have just caused a pocket of uncertainty where a certain thing was. They have just gambled with my life. And nobody has the right to do that.

Peace & Love & Do Not Covet. You might avoid a big war, or just one with your neighbor, or the one society will wage on you when they catch up. It won't be thru the courts. You'll be locked out of people's homes, social activities, lives, and sharing. You'll be ostracized. You will be barred out if you're not locked in jail. And if you want to whine about why, look to yourself. What did you think you deserved?

Reign Peace.