Haggle or no haggle

As I’ve mentioned more times than I care to count, I love shopping for BDSM toys.  But I also like a good bargain when I can see one, or create a deal from someone offering something that they no longer have a use for.  About 90% of the time, I pull the trigger and manage to come away with something useable, and acceptable in price to both sides.  Today, that didn’t happen.  I’m a bit sorry it didn’t, both for me and for the seller, but sometimes you just can’t come to an agreement on price.

This all took place on Fetlife, where I tend to haunt the Kinky Items for Sale and similar groups for bargains.  This morning I happened to notice a new post from someone in NY saying that they’re in the midst of spring cleaning and want to part with some of their toy collection.  “Great!” I think to myself.  “Let’s see what they’re offering.”

It’s a small list, but at least there are references to pictures on their profile.  Anymore, people who list items forget that a picture really is worth a thousand words.  There’s so much more to see in a picture of what you’re offering than you can accurately describe in words.  I click over to their profile and look over the proffered pictures.  Already I can see there are interesting items that I might have an interest in.  A pair of heavy leather padded restraints with locking buckles, a pair of interestingly designed wooden paddles, that are described as being made from tiger maple.  Hmm, never heard of that type of wood before.  But maple is a hardwood, and anything that’s crafted from it will be hardy and sturdy.  The last item was a quirt, or what some might call a dragontail.  The seller was calling it a mini-whip, in that it only has two ‘tails’ off of the main belly of the whip.

Of all the prices that the seller was listing, about the only one that seemed out of whack was the padded cuffs.  2 wrist cuffs for $100 seemed a bit much.  The nice part about the listing was that the seller did seem interested in haggling since she put at the end of her listing in larger red type OR BEST OFFER.  That to me suggested that she wasn’t quite as firm in her preferences of price than she was listed originally.  It’s good when there’s wiggle room. 

I thought to myself about how much I should offer for all the items I was interested in.  When I mentally tallied up what she was asking, I found it to be $180.  I thought $150 might be acceptable as a counter-offer, and since I was going to be paying for the shipping, that might add in another $10-15 to the price.  I typed up a message through Fetlife’s communication system, sent it off and went about my day.  About 2 in the afternoon I checked my messages and sure enough, there was a reply.  Though not quite the reply I was expecting.  She didn’t seem to think much of my counter-offer.  She stated that all the items I was interested in were going to be $200, not $180 like she’d listed.  Eh?

I thought about the reply before writing back.  It could be that she’d added in the shipping and came to the total of $200 that way, or maybe there was some other hanky-panky going on.  In my reply, I reiterated that she’d clearly stated prices and that there was wiggle room in them when she’d stated that best offers would be accepted.  However, if she wasn’t interested in being flexible, then I wasn’t really interested in overpaying for her used items.  Popped off the message and had a reply within about 20 minutes.  She confirmed that the price she’d quoted had included the shipping.  No wiggle room, she was being firm.  Too, she informed me that she had originally paid $300 for the cuffs, so she believed she was making someone a good bargain.  Personally, at that point, I honestly believe someone had sold her some magic beans if they charged her that much for 2 locking leather restraints.  No matter what sort of leather they might be made of.  None of which I’d mentioned to her, I didn’t wish to be rude.  I made my final reply saying I was no longer interested.

All in all, I think I made the right decision.  Don’t get me wrong, I really would have liked to have everything I originally mentioned, but the prices were just too out of range for what I would feel comfortable paying.  Yes, there have been times when I’ve overpaid for items, but as I recall, it was because of who had made the items in question, they were established artisans so the prices might have been considered a little excessive by some, but as with things like a painting by Picasso, you don’t get it for a song, you get it for what the market will bear.  Even if the finished product is basically canvas and ink.

Better luck next time!

Almost forgot.  I did a little research on tiger maple and discovered it’s not anything really special, it’s a by-product of red maple, just sometimes how the striations are in the wood when it’s cut.  It’s also called ‘flame maple’ because of the stripes.  So in theory, I could make my own paddle with the woodworking tools that my father left me.  Something to be aware of.  Interesting factoid.

Collar 2.0, revisited

Last year I made a foray into collaring my slave.  Given that we’re separated by 3 states here in the US, and she has a job where she interacts with the public a great deal, initially we had decided on something that was, or could be ‘mistaken’ for something less than it actually was.  Unlike fiction, anything can be considered a ‘collar’, per se.  With a previous submissive, we settled on an ‘Eternity’ cuff, a steel circlet that could be made semi-permanent by the fact that it was secured with a screw.  If I had kept the allen wrench that controlled the screw, then (at least in theory), I could control when it was on and when it was off.  If my submissive were creative, and wishing to be ‘bad’, she could get an allen wrench on her own and remove it if she wished.  But we didn’t have that sort of relationship, she honored the cuff as well as the symbolism which it engendered, and I allowed her to have a wrench in case it needed to come off for some reason, unforseen by either of us.  And it worked, for as long as the relationship lasted.  I still have the cuff, she returned it to me about 6 months after we parted ways.

For my current charge, after searching high and low for the ‘right’ collar, I found an artisan on Etsy that crafted jewelry that was both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.  Granted the artisan in question lives/works in Russia, so getting something from her was going to take some time.  Too, since my slave informed me that she doesn’t so much like a necklace/collar that rides too high on her throat, I had to have a longer than normal version of the collar crafted to accommodate her needs.  All in all it took a little less than a month from the time that I initially contacted the artisan, to the time when the collar arrived in my mailbox.  Fortunately, it coincided with my trip to visit with my girl in Pennsylvania last year and during a little ceremony in our hotel room, I presented her with it and she began wearing it as close to 24/7 as she could.

But then tragedy struck.  The collar was lost during a trip she had made to a local (for her) beach.  To her credit, once it was discovered as missing she immediately went back to the place where she had been (it was close to the middle of the night) to search for it, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be found.  Needless to say, I was less than pleased.  I paid a good amount of money for it, and in the space of a couple of months, it was gone.  Just like that.  I have to admit, it was the first anything of that nature that a submissive of mine lost.  Considering that it was only in her possession for a little over a month, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get something else in the same vein.

It’s now been seven months since the last collar escaped.  In that time we’ve had several conversations about ‘when is she going to get a new collar‘.  As before, it’s not an easy answer because it’s not an insignificant investment.  Especially since we now can confirm something that can be removed can easily be lost.  So in spite of the fact that she has a preference for something that’s loose around her throat, I’m thinking that it’s going to be my preference this time, that it be something that’s difficult to remove.  Not impossible, since we’re separated by mileage and hours, but something that requires invested effort to remove.

So, the main purveyors in this genre are Eternity and ROS (Ring Of Steel).  (There’s also Damax on the continent, but due to shipping issues and overseas exchange rates I’m mainly concentrating on domestic suppliers) ROS has a version that’s they refer to as a ‘Stealth’ collar, in that it’s only 1/4″ diameter steel tubing.  Consequently, it tends to be less noticeable, or allows it to fade into the background, as it were.  Of course, as I’ve noticed over the years, it’s usually the person themselves that either call attention to something or not, depending on how they wear it.  If the wearer treats the item as an extension of themselves, then others don’t necessarily look at the item as something unusual. If it’s the reverse, and they’re uncomfortable with it, then it tends to get noticed more often.

In order to do this right of course, I need an accurate measurement (again).  We have a visit planned for the end of April or the beginning of May, so I can get her neck measured and if I’m completely certain, I can send off the order to whichever business I determine is going to give me the best bang for my buck, as well as can have it completed in a fair amount of time.  Small time artisans don’t work on an assembly line, they’re not putting out wares for the masses, at least you hope they’re not.  As the old saw goes; Quality vs. Quantity.

There will be updates.  This isn’t the final decision.

Saga of the “What If’s..”

giphy.gifI was laying in bed last night, just before going to sleep, and the temperature outside was a balmy -6°F when it hit me.  What if we had a fire in the house right now?  It’s not an impossibility.  The house is over 170 years old.  Having gone down to the basement, there are indications of a previous fire in the neighborhood of the living room fireplace, so in the past history of the house, there was some sort of disaster, or at least some timbers were heavily singed.  Since we don’t know the history of the house really past the 1870s (that’s as far as the title search went) we’re forced to speculate a little bit about the ‘what if’s’ that occurred back then.

But again, what if there was a fire in the house?  Would we get out in time?  How many of our possessions would be salvageable?  Moreover, would we be able to catch the cat to save his little furry butt as well?  Naturally there are pressing issues about scene items, like my flogger collection, and other BDSM toys, how much of them would be destroyed, lost to water damage, smoke and so on.  One of our wedding presents was a flogger made by an artisan who’s no longer crafting her wares.  Matter of fact, one can’t hardly find a reference to her work anymore on the web, but go back 25-30 years ago, and she was a highly respected and sought after craftsperson.  Weird sometimes how that happens.  Lost to the whims of history, even in BDSM lore.

I started this post a week ago, but am finishing it up now, fyi.  A couple of days ago as I was thinking about the scenario that began this post, I thought about buying a safe for my more valuable and less ably replaceable scene items (along with some other necessities, like insurance papers, birth and marriage certificates, as well as other important documents and valuables).  We do have a small safe that my FIL owned, but it’s been in storage for the past 20 years, and it actually weighs about 200 lbs (~91 kgs).  Too, I don’t believe we ever ascertained or found the combination, so at present the safe door is open, so we don’t have to pay a locksmith to open the damn thing.  Consequently, that wouldn’t do very well anyway.  Too small.  I went to a safe website, and looked for possible options and hit upon a possible solution, a ‘gun safe’, one that would be used to protect one’s firearms as well as other valuables.  The only problem (besides price) would be the one I would probably want weighs in excess of 800 lbs (~363 kgs).  The likelihood of something of that nature would be it would end up in the basement, since it would probably crash through the floor of whatever room we wanted to put it in.

So that scenario isn’t a likely solution.  Just another in a long line of musings I’ve had over the years.  Actually, the other ‘what if’ thought I’ve had is, who’s going to inherit my toy collection after I’m gone?  Yeesh.  Gotta quit being morbid.

 

Cranking up for Snowmageddon 2019

A day or so ago I was hearing from several of my co-workers about a possible snowstorm that might be coming this way this weekend.  There were rumors about the possibility of a foot or more of the white stuff that might be coming down.  Naturally, for most of them, it was a cause for concern, but for me it was quite the opposite.  My personal reaction to hearing we might be getting significant snowfall was ‘About Damn Time!’

I’ve always been one that liked a lot of snow. Even when I was little, I loved to watch the snow come down, knowing that the next day (or later that same day) I would be able to play in it.  Snowball fights, snow forts, being able to get swathed in my snowsuit, with the mittens attached to the cuffs by clips, playing in the yard with my brother and the neighbor kids for hours.  Sledding, tobogganing, building, destroying, fighting (not the ‘knock down drag out’ variety) and just generally having a good time as kids are supposed to.

Now that I’m older, well the desire is still there, just in a different manner.  I have a ‘toy’ that I ‘play’ with, called a snowblower.  It’s almost 30 years old, and it’s undergone a couple of refits, but it still works just fine.  A bit rusty, I remember purchasing it from the local AGWAY store near where I grew up, because there was a big snowstorm coming, and I wasn’t able to manhandle the large Graveley tractor that my Dad used to use.  His Alzheimer’s was in full swing at the time, and he wasn’t able to help me with the configuration of attaching the large 48″ snowblower to the front of the tractor.  So I went to the AGWAY and bought a floor model snowblower, and asked if it was possible for them to deliver it that day.  As I recall they were amenable to the prospect, and later that afternoon, just before the snow started falling, the truck arrived and they dropped it in my driveway.  I muscled it up and into the garage and was able to test it out the next morning.  Worked like a champ.  So much so that I never used the older, bigger snowblower again.  Even so, were I able to, I would have taken Dad’s Graveley with me.  But the people who bought my parent’s house wanted the tractor, so it went with the house as it was sold.  Visiting the property in 2016, I noted the tractor was long gone from the garage.  The owner’s Mercedes sedan was in the bay where the old station wagon used to sit, but it appeared there had been no yard equipment in the garage for some time.

Hmm…getting back to the topic at hand.  Getting ready for the impending snowstorm.  I went shopping today for some of the items I figured we needed, filled the Edge with gas and filled my 5 gallon can with gas to make sure the snow blower was good to go.  Between Saturday and Sunday, if the storm holds the right track, we might end up with about 20 or more inches of snow.

Fingers crossed it works out that way!!

Repurposing

For many years, I was going through a lot of cellphones.  A lot of it had to do with cellphones coming out with new doodads, new bells and whistles and wanting to be there to take advantage of them.  Only not necessarily the ‘new’ ones, the ones that people were reselling because they wanted the brand spankin’ new ones.

At present I have about 8 or 9 old cellphones here at the house.  Many of them are unusable because they’re just so old that connecting them to a carrier would be cost prohibitive, at least for me.  One of the less ancient ones is a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 that I purchased from somewhere.  I had another one, but I’m fairly certain that I sold it on Swappa.com a while ago, so obviously that one was no longer available to me.

As I have every year for the last couple, I asked my girl what she wanted for Christmas.  I remembered that she had been coveting an air fryer, and I had already been looking for one at retailers off and on for several months, but not really finding the right one for my preferences.  None of the ones I’d been looking at had the right features, or doodads, and I’d been remiss in just buying one at random.  Which is a good thing, since she informed me that she would very much like a new cellphone for her holiday present.

Oof.  That’s a bit of an outlay if I was to purchase something new or even used, but I thought back to the pile of old cellphones on my desk and got to thinking.  She uses StraightTalk, and if I could get the right SIM card, perhaps she’d have the right type of phone, with the right coverage as well as a stylus, which she’d been coveting.  So, I went shopping and investigating online to see if this was possible.  We’d tried something similar before, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work.  Swapping the SIM card from one of her phones to a Note 4 didn’t connect to the network, so we gave up on that enterprise.

I did happen to (finally) go to the Straight Talk website and used the chat portal to speak to one of the assistants. I informed them that I had a compatible GSM phone (unlocked) and needed a SIM card for a location that was not my own. I didn’t go into detail why, I just made sure they understood it was a former AT&T phone and I needed the appropriate card that would connect where my girl lives. Otherwise, they would have sent me a card that would have a phone number that’s more local to me. Even so, I should have remembered to look at the actual phone, because when I powered it up, I re-discovered that it was actually a SPRINT phone, not AT&T. Since it was unlocked, either I at one point had used it as my own phone, or had simply forgotten that it was a different carrier.

The SIM card arrived a few days after I ordered it. After futzing around with it a few times, it finally connected to the network and began running updates. It works just fine now and I need to be able to ship it to my girl so she can be using it for the length of time before the one month no-contract contract expires. Doesn’t do much good sitting here on my desk.

But it works! Go me.

Trash Can Roulette

I just missed the trash pickup.  Again.  And it’s ironic since I’ve been up since 5:45 this morning.  Plenty of time to get the cans and recycling out, only I’ve been doing other things, and a little procrastination since getting up.

Since moving here in 2001, we’ve had 2 different trash haulers.  The first one was sort of the ‘big dog’ in town, pretty much the one almost everyone uses.  They have multiple trucks, they expect you to separate your recycling (paper, cans, plastic) and pick up different parts of town on multiple days.  Of course, since they are the one most often used, they charge a bit more than anyone else.  They provide the bins that you use for trash, and if you use a different can, bin or box, they won’t empty it.  In that, they’re preferential.

About 5-6 years ago, my wife found someone else that’s also local, but they were just getting into the business and needed customers.  They just happened to be friendly with a former co-worker of my wife’s, so we switched to them.  They’re cheaper, they’re not so picky about what can or bin you use, and they (a bit maddeningly) even though we separate out our recyclables, they toss everything together into the back of the truck.  I’m thinking it may not make a difference at this point, that it’s entirely possible at the local landfill it’s all sorted, so this method is acceptable.  I never bothered to explore further, figuring if it wasn’t kosher, they would have been called out on it by now and we’d have gotten a message with our bill saying ‘please separate’.  Which we still do habitually regardless.

The only thing is, they don’t really pick up at the same time every week.  It used to be they’d come at 9, then 10, then within the last six months they’d show up at 11 or later.  Since they’ve become a bit lax, I’ve been allowed to do so as well.  Except for days like today, when they showed up early.  I only knew that, because having finished gathering all the trash and stuff to put out, I heard a large truck coming down the street, and peering through the blinds, I spotted their truck passing us by and turning the corner.  So we missed out again.  Fortunately, its cold outside, so going another week with 2 more bags of trash in the cans isn’t going to be a hardship.  In the summertime…different story!

Need to get back in the habit of putting out the trash earlier.  Or the night before.

Tumbling Tumblr

Admittedly I don’t have a huge social media presence, but I am on quite a few platforms all the same.  One of the ones that I use (or have been using) almost daily is Tumblr.  Though I don’t admittedly use it for vanilla purposes, and in the next 10 days it’s going to get sidelined.  You may or may not have heard of this, but the company that owns the platform; Oath, has decided to eliminate ALL adult content on the service.  Which means, if anything that even slightly looks like porn, it gets pushed off the service.  Meaning probably deleted, along with the offending account that posted it in the first place.  As you can imagine, this is causing a great deal of bruhaha with the majority of people who have such material in their accounts.

Fortunately, I’ve dealt with this sort of thing before.  A few years ago, the website Bondage.com went under, simple because it was considered extraneous, to the company that owns AdultFriendFinder.com.  Of course, it wasn’t just the website that was going under, there was an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server attached to it as well.  And this server had been working for better than 10 years, so you can imagine there was a pretty big community on it.  IRC servers by and large predate the Internet as it’s known today.  It’s a chat service that’s considered very ‘old school’.  It’s all done by text, you must have a bit of computer know-how to get onto one, and since that’s the case, you tend to get a different grade of person that’s connected.  Very few bright eye’d sorts, think more earthy, down-to-earth, the ones’ that have been around a while and seen a lot of things.

When the news came along, there wasn’t too much time to make any sort of plans, the clock was most definitely ticking, much the way it is now with Tumblr.  More than a few enterprising folks took it upon themselves to code up new IRC servers, but without significant outlay of $$, it didn’t take long for most of them to go under.  An IRC server isn’t something you code on a whim, it takes time, hardware and moolah.  Not a lot, but server space isn’t necessarily cheap.  And dedicated bandwidth to run it also costs a good nickel, don’t let anyone fool you.  Tally in the fact that you need more than just yourself to police it, because there are going to be unsavory characters more than happy to glom onto your spanking new IRC server and drown it, just on a whim, or so they said that they did.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I’ve been sort of watching from the sidelines on this one, seeing the posts interspersed with ones giving Oath/Verizon the finger etc. telling people where to go for similar service, how to back up their Tumblr accounts (Tumblr itself is making it difficult for people to archive their stuff) while I did a little searching on the web for a suitable program or manip in order to move my account from web to hard drive.  A couple of days ago, my efforts bore fruit.  I discovered a freeware program that’s been out for a couple of years, it’s kind of a ‘quick and dirty’ program but it gets the job done.  No frills, but then again it’s free so who’s quibbling?  Once I understood how it worked, it took all of about an hour to pull my accounts off of Tumblr for good.  It doesn’t hurt that I have 16 TB (TeraBytes) of hard drive space at my disposal.

I’m really not going to comment on what caused the problem, how it could have been more easily dealt with, instead of Verizon choosing the nuclear option.  I’m just glad I was able to get my things off the web and into a safe spot.  Yes, and make a little rant at the same time.  *Shrug*  I think I’m due.