Archive for September, 2006
Just a quick entry today because we are heading out to … you-know-where … again today. This is the big day. We are going to consolidate the two storage units into one, except for the stuff that people are coming to buy tomorrow. We’ll also make the big final trash run, using a utility trailer. So the job will probably take all day.
Craigslist has proven helpful for selling the furniture. I posted a bunch of stuff yesterday and managed to find buyers for three large pieces. But I’m also getting a bunch of scams, including this one:
RE: (4) cherry spindle-backed chairs – $240
I saw your advert posted on the internet for sale and am very much interested in buying it from you, I am a dealer in all kind of electronics and am currently based here in Canada I will be responsible for the the shippment from your location to my base, so I would want you to get back to me with your asking prize and recent pics and also I would want to know it’s present condition. I will await a reply from you.
Wow, what a bad scam. Can you see all the obvious tip-offs that this guy is a phony? And yet people fall for these all the time. I also got a phony notice that I have won a “Euro-Afriq lotto” for $800,000 this week. It’s rampant. Just be cautious if you are selling stuff on the Internet, and try to do business locally.
Yesterday the expected rain did not arrive and so Eleanor and I got a bonus afternoon at our storage units. (We spend so much time there, it’s like our second home now.) A friend came by and filled his pickup truck with an armoire, two dressers, and a chandelier, plus we’ve sorted out a lot more garbage.
Yesterday our Argosy-owning friends Lou and Larry tipped us off to “freecycling”, which is not about bicycling as you might guess. There’s a grass-roots organization called Freecycle.org which has local units in many communities. It’s simple: you list what you have to give away, and other people list what they want. This allows people to circulate good usable stuff to people who can use it, rather than having it end up in landfills.
Membership is free, and it’s all handled on Yahoo Groups for maximum convenience. From the activity on the group, it really seems to work. I only wish I’d known about it a couple of weeks ago, because it’s a great service for getting rid of stuff. At this point we have most of our free stuff allocated.
Our truck, loaded with recycling and rummage sale stuff again
So, for you future downsizers, where did all our stuff go? Here’s the list:
1) Small valuable items went on eBay, either listed by myself or a local service
2) Large inexpensive furniture went to friends and a local fellow who distributes such things to people to need it. Freecycle would have been good for this as well.
3) Old magazines and other paper went to the local recycling center
4) Personal papers were burned
5) Children’s clothes, toys, and basic housewares went to a local women’s shelter
6) Misc household stuff went to various church rummage sales
7) Most books went to two different book sales to benefit a local charity and a local library. A few went to friends.
8) The car went to someone who needed it. (He picked it up last night.)
9) Misc cash went into our pockets — we found Canadian dollars, US dollars, British pounds, Euros, and a $100 Savings Bond amongst our stuff! The obsolete French and Swiss francs are trash, replaced by the Euro.
10) Old boxsprings and dead mattresses, a rusted bike, broken lamps, and other such stuff went to the landfill
11) My desk and other office equipment is being distributed to various friends
12) Valuable furniture was sold through craigslist or directly to local friends
13) Old towels, blankets, garden hose, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies and pet supplies were donated to the local Humane Society
14) Two pieces of antique furniture were sold through a local auction house.
15) Wearable clean clothes and other personal/household items were donated to the local Goodwill
16) Leftover cherry and maple lumber was given to a friend who likes woodworking projects
You’ll notice we mostly donated things rather than trying to sell them. There are two primary reasons: Selling things takes a lot of time, and donating things gives you a warm feeling. Eleanor felt strongly that things should go to people who needed them. It made it much easier for her to part with certain “treasures”.
You might also notice we didn’t do the first thing that most people think of: a garage sale. I’ve had enough of garage sales that attract dozens of people who want to pay fifteen cents for a Ming dynasty vase. Too many times I’ve wasted a beautiful weekend to sell $90 worth of stuff — after having paid $35 for a classified ad in the newspaper. Giving things away was much more fun and a lot quicker!
It was also fun to discover a few long-lost items. Eleanor found her diploma from Johnson & Wales University, and I found my FAA pilot certificate. Of course we also found boxes of photos — at least half a dozen — and it was hard not to spend hours digging through them and walking down Memory Lane. Mostly we have consolidated the photos for a future session, next summer.
Today is for dropping off the latest truckload of stuff at various churches, friends, and recycling centers. It’s going to rain all day anyway. Tomorrow we hope for clearing and a big final session in which we haul off the remaining trash and consolidate the two storage units into one.
The latest message is as follows:
THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT THERE WAS A SLIGHT DELAY FROM THE COURIER SERVICE USED TO SEND THE CHECK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE THE CHECK HOPEFULLY BY NEXT WEEK.
PLS BEAR WITH ME.SORRY FOR THE DELAY.
My goal in baiting this scammer is to tie up her time and money so she can’t rip off someone else. So I sent this reply today:
“We have a lot of other people interested in this car. I took it off craigslist because you said you were willing to pay right away. My cousin is already expecting your check. If you can’t get the money to my cousin soon, he may sell it to someone else. Will you be able to provide me with a tracking number? That might help.”
That oughta get a reaction. After all, this scammer thinks there’s a bona fide sucker on the other end. She’s not going to let me slip away that easily! I wonder how long we can keep this little charade going?
We are definitely getting somewhere with the divestiture process. One of our storage units is now only about 1/3 full, and the other is running about half full. Today the director of the local Humane Society came by to buy our Cuisinart and we ended up donating a bunch of stuff that the Humane Society can use, like pillows, blankets, towels, and garden hoses. (No, the Cuisinart is not for work purposes …) After Saturday, when half of the bedroom furniture is scheduled to go away, we should be able to consolidate the two storage units.
Two weeks ago this was packed to the ceiling!
And just in time! We are scheduled to leave here on Friday October 6. It’s getting cold at night. Our first freezing nights will likely come in the next 10 days. This is approximately when we would harvest the pumpkins, back in the days when we had a big garden.
Last night we had what might be the last beach campfire of the season. I burned another box of personal papers — utility bills and closing documents from a house we bought in 1993. Eleanor and I had double Boca-burgers with cheddar cheese, while we all watched the sliver of an eerily red moon set over Essex NY, three miles across the open water of Lake Champlain. Spectacular!
Red crescent moon setting over Essex NY
A blog reader volunteered his business address for my Nigerian scammer, so I contacted the fake “Dr. Lilian Williams” and asked her to send the fake check for $2,500 to “my cousin in Virginia.” So that deal is still on. Here’s the latest:
THANKS FOR THE REPLY,YOU WILL GET THE CHECK SOON,AS SOON AS YOU GET TYHE CHECK,PLS LET ME KNOW SO THAT I CAN SEND THE INFORMATION ON WHERE TO SEND THE SHIPPING FEE TOO.
Uh-huh, sure … I won’t be depositing that check. Depositing a fake certified check can land you in handcuffs. Meanwhile, the guy we gave the car to is planning to come over Saturday to pick it up.
By the way, these Nigerian scammers are notorious for hijacking the names of respectable people. In this case, there is a real Dr Lillian Williams (slightly different spelling of her first name), who is a professor at the University of Buffalo. She obviously has no connection to this pathetic attempt to rob me of $2,500.
I know that a lot of people read this blog to capture ideas for their own travel in the future. That’s why I talk honestly about the good and the bad, our experiences with equipment, people, and places. It’s my hope that you can get an idea of what’s waiting for you when you get on the road yourself.
Lately I’ve been talking a lot about non-travel subjects like divesting household stuff and getting our tow vehicle serviced. That’s because it’s part of the lifestyle. It’s not glamorous dealing with some issues, but absolutely necessary. I find a lot of people have questions about seemingly mundane things like “How do I decide where to go first?” and “What do I do with my furniture?” I can relate because those little things can be the difference between going and being bogged down by uncertainty.
But there’s another, more selfish, reason that I blog. While I enjoy helping others get going, and sharing our adventures, I also benefit from your feedback. As of this month, over 5,000 people read our blog. So when I have a problem, I can call on you for help — and that’s incredibly powerful.
For example, yesterday I mentioned needing an address for our scammer, and having some things to give away. Right away, two blog readers offered their addresses, and another one made arrangements to get some of our stuff from storage. When we have had a problem, blog readers have been there to help us out. When we’ve needed a place to stay, you’ve offered us courtesy parking. This two-way interaction makes the whole thing work.
So the answer to the question of “Where should I go?” can be found if you take the time to share your experience with other people. We get invitations to camp, invitations to join rallies, and suggestions of really terrific places to go, all the time from our Internet friends like you. The Internet blog phenomenon isn’t just an egotistical expression of a few outgoing people. It’s a form of communication that really adds value to an adventure like this — changing what was a solitary pursuit (full-time RV’ing) into a group experience.
The new generation of RV’ers is different that way. A decade ago, the big full-time RV trip was almost solely for retirees, who effectively dropped out of communication for long periods of time. Now, we are a generally younger crowd (the average new Airstream buyers are still working and in their 50s). We are in constant communication through our cell phones and Internet. And it works for us, because going out on the road is no longer just about dropping out — but equally about dropping in, in other words, seeking out new experiences, new people, and sharing those things.
That’s why this blog continues. In about a week I (with occasional contributions from Eleanor and Emma) will have been blogging this experience for a full year. It has been a massive amount of work, but I foresee us continuing the blog for at least another four months, probably longer. I’m happy to do it because you make it worthwhile.
Eleanor is dropping off more stuff from storage with friends today: a box of cherry wood scraps, a cherry table (sold), kid’s stuff for the local playgroup, and leftover building supplies from our former house. I’ve made contact with a local guy who takes good household items and donates them to needy families, so he’ll meet us Saturday with his truck to take some furniture. I’m hoping by Sunday we’ll have our remaining stuff reduced to just one storage unit, which has been our goal all along.
Dispensing of things is a curious business sometimes. Our society defines has value in unexpected ways. We have given away piles of perfectly usable merchandise, including furniture, appliances, toys, clothes, and computers. We have thrown out hundreds of items that are still functional but worthless because new replacements are readily available and no one can be found to take the used things.
A few of the things yet to be sold, or given away … Click for larger.
For example, I have a completely operational color TV, and a combination print-fax-scan device. Our local recycle place won’t accept them. Apparently the TV is too old, even though it works perfectly. I don’t know why they won’t take the 3-in-1 device.
But while I can’t sell or even give away those things, I discovered that I can sell an obsolete version of TurboTax software for up to $25 on eBay.
Why? Because as it turns out, people sometimes need to reprint their old TurboTax files. If you’ve lost the paper copies and didn’t make a PDF, you are forced to find an obsolete copy of the software to open and reprint the file. This problem is apparently so pervasive that someone has even made a business out of it. So when I discovered a 1999 version of TurboTax in my old files, I put it on eBay. It’s weird what has value.
The cameras are going on eBay …
Speaking of weird, here’s the latest from my friend in Nigeria, “Dr. Lilian Williams.” She is still interested in sending me a fake check for $2,500 for a rusted-out car.
THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING BUT THE CHECK WAS SENT BACK BY THE COURIER SERVICE USED BECAUSE THEY DONT DELIVER TO P.O BOXES SOI URGE THAT YOU GET BACK TO ME WITH YOU FULL NAME AND FULL HOME ADDRESS SO THAT THE CHECK CAN BE SENT DIRECTLY TO YOU.
THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING ONCEMORE.
I AWAIT YOUR REPLY.
I’m not eager to provide this scammer with a home address, so perhaps I’ll give up on the quest for a souvenir fake Nigerian check. It’s not worth opening a private mail box just for this. If anyone else wants to volunteer an address, let me know, otherwise I’m going to say goodbye to Dr Lilian.
Yesterday: six hours at storage. Our cumulative time on this project of dispensing with excess stuff has to be in excess of 60 hours at this point. We are still at least 20 hours from our goal of having cut our total volume of stuff down by half. I am beginning to chant the mantra Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle as I work. Clearly, the first “R” is the important one. I doubt I will ever want to buy a big house again — they fill up with stuff too easily.
Eleanor and I are talking about schedule on a daily basis now. We think we will be spending Christmas Day in Corpus Christi, TX. I’ve updated the official schedule with the information we have at present.
Several years ago, when Eleanor and I were looking for our first travel trailer, we met a nice lady who had an Argosy trailer. She was eager to sell it and received a full price offer from a nice fellow overseas, who planned to ship it to his home in Nigeria.
You’ve probably heard this scam before. The next step is that the “buyer” sends an overpayment via a fake certified check, and asks that you refund the extra money to him (or his shipping agent) via wire transfer, often Western Union money order. If you are gullible, you deposit the fake check (which looks quite real), the money appears in your bank account, and shortly after you send the balance back, your bank informs you that the check was bogus and takes ALL the money out of your account.
We warned the seller that she was about to get taken, and so she didn’t fall for it when the fake check arrived.
This is known as the “Nigerian 419 scam“. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got contacted by someone wanting to run this scam on me. A few days ago I posted our 1991 Honda Prelude (the one that failed inspection) on craigslist for $500 or best offer. I also posted some furniture.
The next morning I got replies on both items. Both responses were identical, except for the name of the “buyer”:
I AM INTERESTED IN BUYING THE ITEM YOU PPLACED ON CRAIGSLIST ABOVE AND I NEED YOU TO LET ME KNOW IF IT IS STILL AVAILABLE FOR SALE AND IF YOU ACCEPT A CERTIFIED BANK CHECK PLS GET BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Clues that this is a scam: “she” didn’t identify the item for sale, didn’t ask any questions, and is offering full asking price with a certified check right off the bat. Fractured English and all-caps writing are also suspicious.
So (because I’ve always wanted to see one of the Nigerian fake certified checks) I wrote back that I would be pleased to take a certified check for the 1991 Honda Prelude.
THANKS FOR THE REPLY,I AM WILLING TO MAKE THE PAYMENT VIA CERTIFIED BANK CHECK SO I URGE THAT YOU SEND ME YOUR FULL NAME,FULL ADDRESS,PHONE NUMBER SO THAT THE CHECK CAN BE SENT TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.THE SHIPPING WILL BE HANDLED AFTER PAYMENT IS CLEARED.
PLS GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Not wanting to reveal all my personal details, and wondering just how dumb this scammer was, I replied with a fake name and phone number:
“Please make the check for $500 out to my cousin — it is his car.
Ayres T. Reem
PO Box 74
Ferrisburg, VT 05456
I can sign the title over after the check clears.
I heard back immediately:
I GOT YOUR INFORMATION AND I HAVE INSTRUCTED MY ACCOUNTANT TO MAKE PAYMENT.A CHECK OF $2,500 HAS BEEN ISSUED BY MY ACCOUNTANT AND SENT AND AS SOON AS YOU GET THE CHECK YOU CASH IT AND SEND THE OVERPAYMENT VIA WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER TO MY SHIPPING COMPANY FOR SHIPPING FEE SO THAT THE ITEM CAN BE PICKED UP BY MY MOVER/SHIPPER.
SORRY FOR THE INCONVINIENCES.
N:b: ALL WESTERN UNION CHARGES WILL BE TAKEN FROM THE OVERPAYMENT OF$2,000,PLS GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS MESSAGE.
Gee, what a surprise! Extra money for shipping expenses. That’s a lot of money to spend to ship a $500 rusted car. And where exactly is it going? “Dr Lilian Williams” didn’t say. But I wrote back that this was fine.
THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING,I WANT YOU TO DELETE THE ITEM FROM CRAIGSLIST AND CONSIDER IT MINE.I WILL SEND YOU A TRACKING NUMBER SOON.THANKS.
So I’m waiting for my check now. Can’t wait to see it. I hear they make good fakes.
Meanwhile, Eleanor and I have given the car away. Yesterday while we were at storage, Colin Hyde came by. He took a few bulky things, including a desk and my old mountain bike, and then Eleanor mentioned the Honda Prelude. Turns out that Colin has an employee who has no car and is going through a divorce, so we gave him the car. He’ll need to patch a rust hole to get inspected, but otherwise it should be a good reliable car for him for at least another year.
Yesterday Emma and her grandmother worked on a Halloween pumpkin. (The best part, as always, was the perfectly roasted seeds that resulted.) Pumpkin carving means it’s really Fall in Vermont. I’ll be on the lookout for foliage developing in the next two weeks.
Next entries »
OK, I’ve been told that my little joke of yesterday was too subtle and went right over peoples’ heads, so I’ll confess. The “mystery mounds of Addison County” are in fact septic system leach fields. See, it was a joke … there’s a lot of clay soil in Addison County and so most people have to put in a “mound” type leach field to compensate.
But I really am thinking about doing the tongue-in-cheek guidebook for “flatlander” tourists who come to Vermont. Seems like a fun idea, and it will give people a reason to visit Addison County and take pictures of something besides foliage.
Bert called yesterday from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He and Janie are anticipating being back in the northeast US in about two weeks. They’ll catch the high-speed Cat Ferry from Yarmouth, NS to Maine, and then rendezvous with us in Massachusetts or Pennsylvania.
Adam called yesterday as well. He and Susan are flying west to pick up their Airstream Class C and drive US Rt 50 through Nevada, Colorado, and Kansas. We’ve driven a lot of that route and it is a terrific (if occasionally lonely) trip.
Rich C called from Florida — he’s stuck there for at least a month, probably more, but at least he’s feeling better. And we’re still here, watching the Fall weather and frantically trying to get our stored stuff under control before it really turns cold and windy. Eleanor and I are heading up to storage again today to pull a few Adirondack chairs out and donate them to friends and family.