The Ghost of Aunt Ada

My Aunt Ada was a very interesting woman. Quite a character in fact, although that didn’t make her unusual in our family. I thought of her this week when I was watching prices on things go up inexplicably. Why? Because she used to go to the local flea market and haggle, and yes I would go too and complain about what people were asking. One time she volunteered to walk up and down the rows banging a pan and shouting “People your prices are all too high!” She didn’t actually do it, but it was a close thing.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned two items I’d found that I was interested in buying but felt they were both a tad expensive yet. One of them sold before I’d finished writing that missive, and now the other one has gone up in price by $40. What’s more, a certain new lens I’ve been watching since before Christmas has gone from “$149” to “$129” to “$179” to “$177”, up and down bouncing between the numbers with no rhyme or reason.

It gets worse. I looked at some used laptops and found that people seem to want as much if not more as you can buy comparable units for new. Did they not get the memo? The moment you buy that latest tech its value drops by half and it’s already superseded by a new model. What you paid for it isn’t relative to its worth, which is why you still have it for sale.

Looking on local and national sales sites (E-Bay Canada is just E-Bay USA with extra charges for shipping, exchange rate, import fees, and taxes) for anything you care to mention and you see it’s all nutso pricing. In addition to the previous mentioned products we have people trying to sell $2 Matchbox cars for $20 (or sometimes a lot more), clothing you can get out of you-know-where being priced on-line for 3X retail, and dollar store goods offered as though they are from Harrod’s. Are people really so foolish as to not shop around?

There are those who say I’m the fool for not grabbing those items when I could because when they’re gone they’re gone. I say “so what?” I’ve seen things “go” for more than half a century and know not only is there another opportunity coming, but you didn’t cease to exist just because you didn’t get that whatsit that you managed to live without before you saw it. So I’ll continue to follow the Zen and wait for the planets to align, or whatever, before making my purchases.

But what we really need is the ghost of Aunt Ada walking up and down the metaphorical aisles of on-line selling banging her pan and shouting “People, you have got to lower your prices!”

Speaking of ghosts, here’s ghost cat (a preliminary experimental photo):

ghostcat

How to not buy a camera

Screenshot from 2019-11-16 08:17:21

This is Fuji’s X-E3. It’s a beauty, eh? Nice ‘retro’ styling like a 35mm rangefinder camera from the 1950s. It also has some pretty impressive technical specifications like a 24MP sensor and being mirrorless (yet having an eye-level finder, albeit an electronic one). And Fuji has a well-deserved reputation for build and image quality. Good all around, right?

Well I like it, but this image is of a “shop worn” “warehouse deal” which even though heavily discounted in price is still twice what I paid for my Canon DSLR! Frankly I’d have a hard time justifying that money even if it were to be my only camera. In fact as such it would be a worse value as it certainly can’t do all the things any one of the four others can manage, much less what they all together can manage. What’s more, this has a single fixed focal length lens: additional lenses mean additional money, to the tune of “more than I paid for my Canon” per each.

Now if I were to go around buying cameras on a basis of how artistic the styling is I’d soon run into two problems: I’d have no room in this house and I’d be broke. No, three problems as I’d probably be divorced as well which would make storing the cameras even more difficult what with being homeless on top of everything else.

In fact you could say I’ve just gotten away from that problem last year with the forced dispersal of my accumulated massive collection of film cameras. That was not so bad as I couldn’t use most of them today anyway, and in fact hadn’t been able to in many years due to the unavailability of film. Digital cameras don’t suffer from that (except in the case of certain early models with proprietary memory systems), but the question “would you use it?” is still valid.

When I look at these shiny toys the only honest answer to that is “no, not a lot”. But I also have to admit that if the price were low enough I’d probably do the stupid thing and buy this one. And possibly some others.

In the meantime I’m waiting for the weather to get better and taking shots like this with the Kodak V1003 which owes me nothing:

100_0415

Been shopping?

I went shopping yesterday. We didn’t need much because we’re just two old people and we don’t eat much. In fact the entirety of the purchases fit in one bag you could lift with one hand.

It cost $66 and change.

How the hell is that even possible? There weren’t any cans of caviar in there I assure you. In fact the contents were a couple of cans of beans (on sale), a couple of packages of coffee (on sale), a box of cereal (should have been on sale – more later on this), a package of fresh chicken thighs (on sale), some deli ham (on sale), a pack of M&Ms (on sale), and a litre of 2% milk.

So what happened? Well for one thing the local Safeway closed down, to be reborn as a Freshco (for no sane reason) come January. This has given the only other grocery store in town an excuse to jack up prices on all non-sale items. Yet most of the things I bought were on sale. Hmm. Sales aren’t very good these days, are they? I keep seeing that when I look at the flyers: mostly items we don’t want, and not great deals on anything anyway. An example would be 2 litre pop: Safeway would regularly put them on sale for $1.67 each, whereas this other store’s idea of a sale is $2.59, regularly $2.99.

We did not buy exclusively from Safeway beforehand, because the other place had decent deals and better produce. In fact Safeway allowed us to get things for free via the Air Miles Cash Miles rewards, which are now useless to us. Good thing we only have a few hundred dollars worth of them, eh?

Now let’s look at the other store’s Reward Points program. Hardly ever used it for anything because the items they’d discount with them were rarely anything we wanted. So we had about 9,000 points saved up. That is until they expired without warning. Which is why when I expected to get the cereal on discount there wasn’t any; the points had expired and we didn’t have enough saved up since that reset to zero. Isn’t that nice of them?

The typical consumer response to this kind of bad treatment is to shop elsewhere. This only works when there is an ‘elsewhere’. The next nearest large grocery is in the big city which is over an hour drive each way. That’s a lot of time and gasoline so you’d need a really long shopping list to justify the journey. Remember what I was after: one bag of groceries.

When you’re retired on a fixed income this sort of shenanigans is not welcome. They’ve raised our taxes, and the government services have not improved any. The price of gasoline is quite steep, and there’s no way to shorten the distances (the Hybrid has helped here with its 35 MPG, but the capital expenditure has to be amortized over longer than we will live to make that work out). Electricity has gone up, probably thanks to everyone using less as requested. Also our vehicle insurance (state run) has gone up, yet they still lose millions every day because the agency is so badly operated. It will be interesting to see if the province votes in a new gang of thieves next year to replace the incompetent, bungling morons who are running things now. I should mention that many of these items have 12% sales tax piled on top of the price, on sale or not.

And I have to mention that the bag included my antacid medicine, which had to be replaced with a type that costs double because ranitidine in all forms has been pulled from the shelves. Something to do with microcontamination of it that might cause cancer (as opposed to the reflux it prevents which does cause cancer).

Oh by the way the name of this offending store is, ironically, “Save-On Foods”. I kid you not.