Tales of Muhlesteins Far and Wide

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Location: United States

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Selling the Laptop Again

Well, after procrastinating for too long, I decided I better go ahead and list my laptop for sale again. This time, in addition to spicing up the details a bit, I set a reserve.

Here is something I found out about reserve fees. The fee for reserving the value of the auction is much less than the fee for starting the bid higher (1%). In addition, when you start the bid lower, it encourages early bidders (who then are more likely to bid more toward the end). Another bonus is that when the item sells, the reserve fee is refunded.

Anyhow, I decided to start the bid at $9.99. Someone could use the Buy-It-Now option and get it for $1479 with free shipping. We'll see if I have more luck selling it this time than last!

Know anyone that needs a laptop?: Sony Vaio K37, Pentium-4 3.2 G w/ 1 Gig Ram.

Hope I have more success than last time.

Monday, August 29, 2005

We grew some corn

We haven't had a terribly productive garden this year. I think the boys have walked on each plant at least once or twice. We have grown a few things that tasted not too bad though. Yesterday we had a stir fry that had a couple big green bell peppers right from the garden. Tonight we are eating some corn. I must say, it's pretty good.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

We Braved Timpanogos Cave

I was relatively convinced that this Saturday wasn't going to be a great success in terms of having lots of fun. Gayla had meetings this morning and I just didn't have a lot of plans for the rest of the day. I needed to got some work done on the wheels for our car and wasn't too excited at the length of time I was going to have to wait to get that done. After Gayla was finished with her meetings, I could tell that Scott and Dallin were going to need something constructive to do or we were going to have a VERY long day.

Then it dawned on me. We had been saying for a long time that it was a shame that we had lived here for this long and never hiked up through Timpanogos Cave. That was enough to convince me. We packed up the boys and headed off. On the way I dropped off the car at Big-O and told them we'd come back and get it later. (Sure beats sitting and waiting for them to get stuff done.)

Here is Gayla and the boys at the start of our adventure. (You can click on most of the pictures to see bigger ones.) Scott doesn't look like he is too excited about hiking 1.5 miles up the hill. Dallin has no idea what he is getting into. We found out that there was a 1 hour wait before we could start hiking up to the cave. That is because there was quite a few other people that had the same idea as we had today. We called Big-O and told them just to put the keys in the car under the seat when they were done and we'd pick it up later. We weren't going to make it back before they closed.

The Visitor Center at the start of the trail has a movie you can watch. It shows a bunch of stuff about the cave for those that don't want to walk up and see it. It can also help pass that 1 hour waiting time before you are supposed to start hiking. Tim and Dallin were quite bored with the video and about caused enough noise that we didn't think anyone could hear so we decided to just start walking early. We figured we might need the extra time anyway. Once we convinced Scott that he could actually walk this far (he had no clue how far it is, but usually starts complaining about walking after 100 yards or so), his 5 year old legs outperformed Dallin's 3 1/2 year old legs. Dallin was not to be left too far behind though and did a great job.

Here is me and the boys about 1/3 of the way up the trail. (1/2 mile). As you can see, Tim was also working very hard to make it up to the cave.

The pictures below proves we made it. We rested for a while and the boys quickly regained any energy they lost. Scott and Dallin were a bit anxious when we entered the cave. They weren't too sure about going 500 feet down into the mountain.

At one point we passed a couple of park rangers sitting along the tunnelwaiting to do whatever job they were supposed to do. You couldn't see them until we were right there and since they were sitting, they were about Scott's height. He about jumped out of his skin when he saw them. I guess he just wasn't expecting people to be right there in the middle of the mountain. There is one point in the cave where they turn the lights off and let you see how dark it naturally is. Our group was rather close to the group ahead of us when the first group decided it was time to do that demonstration. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a tunnel walking and not in the standing place. However, Gayla, the boys, and I were toward the end of the pack and could still see a little bit of light from the portion of the tunnel that didn't get turned off. We wondered what we were going to do for a bit, stayed still for a bit, tried to keep Scott and Dallin calm, and eventually they turned the lights back on.

Us at the cave entrance. Elevation 6730 Feet (1130 feet above the Visitor Center)

We saw many really cool stuff in the cave. Unfortunately, our camera just isn't that great at taking pictures in really low light. This one above turned out OK though. They warn you not to touch anything in the cave because the formations (like those above) are extremely delicate. They break easy but take millions of years to grow.

Coming out the other side, you can see it is a very long way down to the bottom of the canyon. Actually, you can't see the bottom of the canyon here.

All in all, we had a great time. As you can see from this picture, Tim was rather tired out from the hike. We made it back and noticed that a trip to Wendy's was rather necessary. We had brought lunch but no dinner. We thought the hike could justify the calories.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My blog is filtered in China

My uncle who is in Beijing right now, notified me that he gets a "page cannot be displayed" message when trying to view this website. I imagine that all the blogger created sites are banned over there. It's a good thing they protect their citizens from all the radical things that I post on here.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

How NOT to sell something on eBay

Well, it's come time to get rid of my laptop. Pretty much everyone wanting to get rid of anything technical either pawns it off on family/friends, or sells it on eBay. I don't know anyone personal who wants my laptop, so eBay it was. Last Wednesday night I took a picture, put up a description and started the wait.

Well, most of the same models of laptops as mine that had already completed the auction had sold for around $1350 to $1450. Some of these even had quite a few people bidding on them. My laptop was not only in very good condition (Only had it about 9 months), but it still has a warranty for another two years. I thought for sure, I would get top dollar for it. I set the starting bid and $999.99 with a Buy-it-now option for $1500.

To my surprise, I didn't get a lot of attention during the first few days. I thought, this is probably because there are quite a few of those laptops for sale and mine still has a while before it ends. I was more surprised when the last couple days rolled around and I still did not have any bids. Perhaps the item was ending at a time when it wasn't so good to sell things. It ended at 10:35 pm MST on Wednesday night. Hmn. That means 12:35 am on the East coast and 11:35 pm central. Perhaps a lot of people went to bed already.

Lesson 1: List the item when the most people are likely to see it end.

So finally, one person placed the $999.99 bid Wednesday afternoon. He was from California (West coast & earlier-Lesson 1). By this time I had 17 people watching the item. I figured during the last 10 minutes or so, it would take off because the savvy ebayer waits until the last to bid as to not drive up the price.

Lesson 2: A lot of the time, those placing a bid earlier don't expect to win the item, but they like to get rid of the buy-it-now option by placing a bid. That way they can keep watching it until the auction ends, and if the price stays right, they can bid again. They almost always believe their initial bid will be outbid.

Well, don't ask me why, but no-one else bid on the laptop. It ended and the original buyer received the item for $999.99. EEEK! This was not something I could afford to do.

Lesson 3: Start the bid at the minimum price you can take for the item or place a reserve on it. I never thought the laptop wouldn't sell so I didn't follow this rule. I was very perplexed as to why nobody else placed a bid.

Well, at this point I was bound by the eBay rules to sell the item so I dutifully emailed the buyer and asked his preferred method of shipping and how he'd like to pay for the item. After I turned off my computer and was about to head to bed, I remembered lesson 2. This guy perfectly fit the profile of the early bidder. I thought that perhaps he really didn't want the laptop anyway.

So I fired off another email and asked the buyer if he would prefer not to pay for the item. I was taking a long shot, but hey, there was no way I wanted to ship this off to someone who didn't really intend to buy it.

To my surprise, he emailed back and said I was right. And that I could go ahead and relist it!

Lesson 4: Take rule number 3 into consideration before listing your item!

Well, now I still have my unsold laptop. Before I list it again, I'm going to check into some of the things people have used to describe the other laptops selling. I'm also going to research a good time to sell.

All I have to say is I'm a Lucky Dude today!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fun with Rain

Last week we had the big Family Reunion out at the Muhlestein Cabin. Lots of fun there of course.

As usual, Saturday afternoon was time to take a spin on the bikes. It had rained earlier in the day settings us back a bit but we didn't haul motorcycles all the way back home to let them sit. I think we got started around 4:30 or 5:00 pm.

Jed said, "We're going to ride every trail on the mountain as fast as we can".

We started out going somewhere between slow and fast as we can. Seth (bother in law) came along riding my dad's new CRF450R. He was probably going as fast as he could. When we got on the first trail, it started to sprinkle just a little. During the trail it started to rain a little more steady but was still light enough that we thought we'd just keep riding. By this time we were on the back side (West) of the mountain. At the end of that trail we headed North up toward the top of the mountain and our next trail. There weren't a lot of places to go between the two trails so and we could see some pretty heavy rain coming up the draw.

We were already soaked pretty good, but when rain started coming down so heavy we couldn't see, I pulled over under a tree. Soon Jed and Seth were there too and we waited the bulk of the storm out for a while. We were so soaked that we could squeeze our gloves together and water would stream from them. We shivered a little too but not too bad.

When the rain let up a bit, off we went. We didn't have too much trouble with mud on the trails. What we really lacked was time though. We got to the North-West side of the Mountain and then started back on another trail. We realized about 1/2 through this trail that we really needed to ride a little faster.

My dad's bike had a bald back tire and Seth kept having trouble starting it so Jed and Seth traided bikes for a while. Seth said the YZ250 felt like a toy after the 450. After a little more, I traded my CR500 for the 450 and Seth rode my bike back to the road.

At this point, we really needed to hurry. Good thing Seth was there to help us keep pace or Jed and I may have run off the road. There were a few slick spots on the last trail but we made it up even with Dad's bald back tire. About the time we got to the last 4 wheeler road it was pretty dark. At this point, we started riding quite slowly. Jed just tried to stay between the trees, Seth just went where Jed went, and I just went where Seth went.

We made it all the way back to within a few minutes of the cabin and then my dad came driving up the road. He followed us back (we could see with the truck headlights now). We'd have made it anyway, but thought it was nice not to have to drive in the dark any more.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cleaning out the Garage.. Sort of

My father put his motorcycle in my garage a while back so as to sell it. I live where there are more potential buyers than he does I guess. Well, the ads expired from the papers and there still hadn't been anyone come and take it for a test drive. To get my garage space back, I had to take matters into my own hands. My neighbor a few houses down mentioned he'd like to buy the bike but probably couldn't get the cash together. Up on Top of the Mountain I thought it would be great to take it out for a test spin so him and I headed up the mountain with the bikes. It worked like a charm. He worked out a deal with Dad to do some woodwork for the bike. Best of all, I've got a little extra room on that side of the garage again.

It's a good thing I have Linux

This afternoon, my wife had to turn the computer off after a crash. It wouldn't boot back up. Even in safe mode, it would stop after some driver in Mup.sys.

It's a good think I have Linux on that machine too, I booted into linux and used the ntfsprogs package to look around the data in the Windows partition. I was able to copy all the data that mattered into another drive for backup. I really should be making cd backups on a regular basis. The ntfsclone utility reported that there were errors I needed to fix before I could use that though.

Anyway, I booted into the Windows Recovery Console to use the chkdsk utility. It reported there were unrecoverable errors that could not be fixed. Well, at this point I've decided that I get to re-install. I booted back into the Windows install CD and attempted to re-install Windows. It reported that there was an error with that drive. Good Grief.

So I booted back to Linux (again a good thing I have it on there), reformatted that drive (it works fine), and then booted back to Windows. At this point, the install is started and seems to be going well. For some reason though, Windows assigned the letter J to the drive.

Why doesn't Windows just work? (Like Linux).