Thursday, September 30, 2010

Survival Guide: Velociraptors

I had a dream that Velociraptors existed and were hungry for the human race. If my dreams are actually premonitions, then you'll be glad you're reading this.

What to do when Velociraptors attack

First, let us assess our situation. Let us assume that assumptions made in current books and movies are correct or else we're already in deep doo.

  • Velociraptors are fast.
  • Velociraptors can learn.
  • Velociraptors eat humans.

Next let us assess our own abilities. There are three basic survival instincts built into nearly all beings. Fight. Run. Hide. Velociraptors are clearly bigger, stronger, and built with more sharp things than humans. Fighting would be unwise. Velocity is right in the name! Naturally, running is out. Therefore through the process of elimination, hiding is our best strategy.

Proper Hiding Procedure

Hiding: To place oneself in a location or position unknown to another.

The most important thing to remember about hiding is that it is both a skill and an art. You can learn the skill and be quite proficient, but you must camouflage with your soul and your heart before you become a true master.

Common hiding places include around corners, behind trees, in closets, under beds, and other often cramped but closed off places. While these are very good places to hide when death is not at stake, we must take a slightly different approach when dealing with these most dangerous of beasts.

Because Velociraptors can learn, they will likely recognize anything that is door-like in appearance and they will take special care to check those places for your delicious flesh. I suggest that you find something that doesn't look like a door yet still functions as a door and hide therein.

One example of such a sneaky door would be the pull down ladder attic. Velociraptors have small claw hands with very little fine motor skills. The dangling string which one would use to pull down this trap-style door would be nearly impossible for a Velociraptor to grab hold. Just to be safe, when you pull the door up, tuck that dangling string in. When using this hiding place, be as still as possible. A Raptor's acute sense of hearing will pick up the creaky boards and be your undoing. I suggest taking a seat with a friend and playing some nice quiet card games until the reptilian hunting party takes leave.

Another example of a sneaky door is the angled attic door. These are most often seen in older houses with an extra half story. The second floor of such a house usually has at least one angled ceiling. The attic door is sometimes a recessed panel opening upwards into the space. If you choose to hide in one of these doors, be sure to strategically place a strap of fabric in the lower corner of the door so that you have a handle to open the door back up. This type of door often has no handle on the inside, so without this fabric strip, you may find yourself well hidden, but also quite trapped.

Trapdoor basements provide an excellent hiding place. Not only is the trapdoor not likely to be recognized as a door by a Velociraptor, but by attatching a rug to the top of the trapdoor, you can make this camouflaged door even more effective. In addition, lifting is a weak point for the Raptor. They would have a great deal of trouble opening the trapdoor in the first place. As a final bonus, your basement can be heavily stocked with canned and dried goods for long term survival situations.

Take the time to look around your home, apartment, or neighborhood for good hiding places.

Special Notes:
Do not let a Velociraptor see you opening these sneaky doors! They are learning creatures and will begin looking for sneaky doors.

Please take special care not to hide in plain sight! Velociraptors differ from Tyrannosaurs in that standing still does not make you invisible to them!

When fighting is the only option

If you are out on an open plain with nowhere to hide, you may need to fight as a last resort. Please consider this advice.

Do not run. Stand your ground and face your enemy. You cannot outrun a Velociraptor and you'll only be exposing your delicious spinal cord. You will need some sort of weapon. In order from most effective to least effective are explosives, firearms, crossbows, swords, and clubs. Because these first three are obvious in their use and to be used at a distance, I will only cover techniques in hand to hand combat.

A Velociraptor's weakest joints are the point at which its head meets its neck and the ankles. Naturally, I am speaking comparatively. The entire body is a force of muscle and sinew, but these are the places you should focus on.

With a club or blunt object: It is necessary for the bludgeoning object to at least double your reach. Your goal is to get the Velociraptor on the ground and to knock it out. Velociraptors have very strong skulls, so it will be necessary for you to aim carefully at the base of the skull to be most effective. You only have one chance for success. When the Raptor leaps, swing across your body not unlike a baseball stance and try to make contact either with the clawed feet or the side of the head. If you make contact, quickly aim a downward blow at the base of the skull. It will likely take multiple swings to subdue your foe.

With a sword or machete: It is again absolutely necessary that your sharp object be at least as long as your arm to double your reach. A Velociraptor is likely to jump when it attacks. Brace yourself, and carefully time your swing. Your swing should be a large fast motion perpendicular to your stance. When the ankles are in range, swing upwards to sever the tendons at the back of the heel and throw off the balance of the jumping beast while at the same time, stepping sideways so as not to be knocked down by the forward force of the Velociraptor's body.. If you've timed your swing carefully and your sword was sharp enough to cause the mentioned damage, you should then take another swing at the head. The ideal situation would have you beheading the creature and posing dramatically over its body.


You have just completed this survival guide. If you meet a Velociraptor and survive the tale with help from this guide, please share your tale that we all may take pride in your success.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garage Sale Heaven

A successful garage sale depends on a lot of factors! Here are some things that catch my eye and might get me to spend a few dollars at your next shindig. Many of these will remind you of the craft show post recently. It makes sense because you're trying to sell.

Get my attention!

The garage sale sign is an art form. I imagine that I could't count the number of times I drove right by a sale because I had no idea it was there. And in brown, I suggest what would have caught my eye much better.

  • The tiny sale sign that you can buy at your local Mart is NO GOOD. You can't even fit your address in the little white bar at the bottom and there often isn't even an arrow to point down your street. Make your sign big. And make it yourself. You can put some design into it and make it really stand out.
  • The big hunk of cardboard you wrote on is NO GOOD. It's the same color as the telephone pole you stapled it to. Camouflage is not something you want to do with your garage sale sign. Use something brighter or at least lighter colored. Or go the exact opposite direction with something much darker with white writing.
  • The piece of neon printer paper is NO GOOD. Sure, it's colorful, but have you ever heard of "too long; didn't read"? Well this would be "Too small; couldn't read." Assume most people will be driving when they see your sign. A very wide Poster Sharpie will go a long way
  • Leaving your lawn bare is NO GOOD. Post a sign in your yard in case someone wasn't paying close attention to the address!
Show me what'ya got.

Now that I'm here, let me see your wares.

  • That blanket on the lawn with everything laying in the center is NO GOOD. I can't reach the things in the center without tumbling over, and I feel like a hunchback just browsing. Put your items up on tables. Garage workbenches, picnic tables, and card tables all work equally well.
  • Your clothing is all in a cardboard box or worse (a trash bag!) and that is NO GOOD. I don't have the motivation to pull out every item and check the tags. Plus I have to dig through it all leaving it a mess afterward and that's even less appealing. Use your clothesline, fence, or garage door as a clothing rack. Post a sign stating all the sizes that are available and organize them.
  • So how much is this? Should I make an offer? Making me wonder is NO GOOD. Post those prices! You'll always have hagglers, but many people will just hand over exactly what you ask for it. You can potentially make more than you expected!
  • I was on the lookout for certain kinds of items. You had them, but I didn't see them. Having everything everywhere is NO GOOD. Organize your secondhand wares logically. Taking a little extra time to put like items together such as books with unused greeting cards and notebook paper, movies with older movie players, and toys near the kids clothing makes it easier for the buyers on a mission to spot what they were hoping for.
Tips for a JACKPOT garage sale.

Here are some clever ideas I've noticed when browsing through some jackpot garage sales I've been to.
  • Masking tape is your best friend. It comes off easily, you can write a price or size directly on it, it's very inexpensive, and you probably have some already! I was at a sale recently with a bunch of different sized jeans. Each pair had a size written on a piece of masking tape right on the front pocket. 34x36, 16W, 18mo. I ended up buying 3 pairs of jeans all of which fit, and all because I could glance the size in a moment. If that doesn't sound impressive, it was the first time I've bought clothing at a garage sale in years.
  • Save up your plastic grocery bags. My arms can only carry so much! It sure was a great way for the seller to get rid of her bags and give me more incentive to keep looking and filling that bag now that everything wasn't falling out of my arms.
  • Host a group sale. Nothing gets my attention faster than the phrase "multi-family." Use that masking tape and a set of your child's many colors of marker to keep track of each family's earnings.
  • Unloading can still be profitable. If someone looks interested in a handful of empty picture frames, give him a deal and get the whole lot off your hands! You'll make more by selling the lot (might not have sold each piece separately) and he's happy because of the great deal you gave him.
  • Breaking a set can be profitable too. You'll find this a lot with crafters and handymen(women). I only want a single zipper/cabinet knob, but you're selling the entire box. Sometimes you can pull one or two items from a set and later on sell the rest as a lot for the original asking price anyway.
  • Put the radio on. Ease the awkward silence of browsing for the hunters and have a more enjoyable day yourself with some great tunes!
In any case, have a great time and I can't wait to rummage through your garage sale sometime.

Garage Sale!

Garage sale, yard sale, church sale, junk sale. There are 4 levels of direct secondhand shopping in Amanda and Kevin -land.

Level 4: Not at all interested, The PEGASH

If you are the type of person to likes to settle into a neighborhood for a while, you've likely encountered the PErpetual GArage Sale House or PEGASH. Yes I just made that acronym up. I'm sticking with it. Join me!

Let's assume that normal household will have a garage sale approximately once per year and often in early spring and summer. Logical reasons to have a garage sale are as follows:
  • I bought fun things at Christmas that replace older things I no longer need.
  • I just did my spring cleaning and found lots of clutter that no longer interests me.
  • I just cleaned my closet and I'm thinner/heavier and these clothes don't fit.
  • The weather is mild and comfortable and I don't mind sitting on a lawn chair for 5-10 hours today with the things I gathered in the previous three bullet-points.
The PEGASH doesn't follow this logic and will use the following semi-logical reasons instead.
  • I never work on Thursday, so that will be sale day from now until the end of time.
  • I made this garage sale sign last time and even though it's faded and can no longer be read, I want to get my money's worth.
  • None of this junky clutter sold at my last 7 garage sales, so I better try again.
  • I bought this off the clearance rack at Walmart and believe I can profit by reselling it at this garage sale.
  • There's no such thing as Goodwill or Salvation Army.
I can and do recognize the signs of my local PEGASHes and don't even bother a glance. I didn't want your baby food jars of rusted washers the last time or the time before, and I don't want them now. But at least I know you'll still be around when I do think up a good use for them.

Level 3: Slow Drive-by, The LOKI

I think the acronym for this type of garage sale is incredibly appropriate. Loki of course was the Norse God of mischief. I first heard that in the Jim Carrey movie "The Mask" and what do you know? It's true!

The signs for a LOKI sale will say:
1000s OF FINDS

I would be and am certainly curious! How many items will there be? Will I find a new paperback novel to adore? I hope they have a shelf that will fit above my toilet!

As the car makes its way slowly down Everytown Avenue, the warning lights go off one by one. The sign on the front lawn, unlike the one at the corner is decorated with streamers, glitter, and stickers. Five children of various ages are playing soccer in the front yard. The driveway is lined with large colorful plastic. Is that a stroller?

LOKI stands for "Lots Of Kids Items."
What makes this type of sale mischievous as the Norse God? The signs usually fail to include the word "kids." For a family, this is no issue of all. For a young couple with no children, we feel we've been duped. Curse you LOKI and your blanket marketing!! Why do you laugh in the face of TARGET marketing? Sorry, but I'm afraid we will drive slowly by.

Level 2: The Standard Garage Sale

This is the sale we've all come to expect, and we are happy to stop and take a look around. No witty acronym is needed. Your sign was straight forward, you've laid your items all out on a few card tables. Your prices are either reasonable or you're willing to haggle. You had a copy of both Sister Act and Sister Act 2 on VHS for a quarter each!

You realize that a garage sale is about clearing out the clutter and not about raking in the cash. Yes, the cash is a bonus, but you don't want those Hummel knock off figurines anymore. That rug was ugly when it was new. You never wore that sweater in the 80s and you wouldn't be caught dead in it now. When your sale is over, you're happy to cart the rest of it off to Goodwill.

Don't get me wrong! I have also seen some garage sales with a separate table for handmade goods such as candles, needlework, and soap! But a true garage salesman knows that if those handmade goods sell, it's a welcome bonus and not the rule. Garage sales are for bargain hunters and fun shoppers.

Level 1: JACKPOT

This is it. The Mother Load. This is the sale you have a 5 second fantasy about every time you see a garage sale sign. The fantasy in which you see something from your past that you've been searching for these past 9 years. The fantasy when you finally complete your Amber Fenton Glass in Lily of the Valley for a reasonable price! The fantasy in which you walk down a driveway and see a person of your exact dimensions and personal style with the clothing hanging on a convenient rack and in brands that you already know fit you well!

These heavenly sales do exist and if you happen to find one, the entire rest of your week will be seen through rose colored glasses. I can't give you advice on finding these sales, but if you're hosting a sale of your own, please visit this blog again! My next post will be about some of the clever garage sale tricks I've seen that made me stay and buy and search and maybe even squee a little bit.

See you next time!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tips from a Buyer /Seller on Craft Shows

This was a very long Etsy post I made that I thought should be preserved here in hopes that any stray readers will find it helpful.

Craft Show Advice from an Amateur Seller and a Pro Buyer!
(or A Craft Show Survival Guide)

I have been to my fair share of craft shows and I rarely leave empty handed. I have participated in a few as well on an amateur level and I'm happy to share my advice based on my experience as both a buyer and a seller.

Things you should definitely have on hand:

--LOTS of Inventory! If you didn't bring it, you can't sell it and it's horrible to run out of product knowing there are still people who would've bought on the spot but aren't interested in waiting.
--Bags/boxes for purchases
--Business cards if you have them to encourage repeat customers and promote your online shop as well if you have one.
--Paper, pens/pencils for keeping track of your sales, taking custom order information or anything that comes up
--Calculator for the big buyers
--A hefty cash drawer to make change
--A reliable friend to watch your booth while you use the bathroom or get a drink (more talkative the better, they have to sweet talk your buyers when you're away!)
--A nice table cover to hide the unsightly folding table that will likely be provided.
--Your craft show contract. You never know who will ask to see it to make sure you've got your t's and i's crossed and dotted.

Things that it would be to have nice if you can swing it:

--A stool. Being elevated even when seated gives you a better business presence than a chair. Your buyers will be standing after all and you don't want to have them looking down to you. If you can, stand as much as possible.
--A receipt book. It rarely comes up in small local craft shows, but some people who make a big purchase will want a receipt, so it's useful to have on hand. (If you're doing a juried event, I would move this suggestion into the must have category.)
--Your knuckle buster. If you have a propay account or another way to take credit cards, definitely have it with you. Do not take information and use your paypal account however. This is against their terms or use and can lock your account or possibly land you a fine or a sentence :(
--Snacks. You're likely in for a longish day. Having a snack will keep you at your table with your customers more of the time, just be careful to be discreet when you eat. If people think you're making a crummy mess, that will affect the way they see your work.
--Your mannequin. If there is room for it in your designated area, bring it! Change the outfit throughout the show. A manny really gets great attention!
--Tall slender shelving that is safe to stand on the tables. Vertical tables tend to attract more attention. If you have space behind your booth, consider using the area as a display for more products or for your banner if you have one.
--Vendor's license. I know not everyone on Etsy/Artfire/etc has one which is why it's currently in this category. You never know who will ask to see yours. (If this is a juried show, make this a must have)

Things to avoid:

--As much as I hate to say it, avoid crafting. It's great to demonstrate that you are the artist, but it prevents you from engaging your customers and takes your eyes away from your table and onto your hands. If you can do it without looking, go ahead, but make sure you're available the very moment someone needs you.
--Long conversations primarily with your reliable friend that came along. Some folks won't want to interrupt and it's a potential sale loss.
--Don't start taking your items down until the show is over! Last minute sales are always lurking! If you choose you can also offer discounts for the last half hour to help move merchandise. That's up to you of course.
--Don't block your table. Stand to the side or behind so that you're never a wall between your customers and your products.

What to do while you're there:

--Smile... a lot. A really lot! Engage your potential buyers. Don't hard sell, just be friendly and willing to answer questions and encourage them to touch your creations if it's clothing and try things on if it's jewelry.
--Be friendly to your neighboring craft tables. Maybe you'll spark a trade. Maybe you'll spark a collaboration! Or a get a discount. Who knows?
--Make sure all your items prices are easy to find. Not everyone will ask and that is a potential lost sale.
--If you plan on taking checks, ask for a driver's license and a phone number. The phone number will get you in touch with them if the check bounces and the driver's license number will get authorities in touch with them if they go AWOL. I hope this never happens to you :) Most people at handmade shows are completely trustworthy and responsible!
--Browse. Before the doors open, shop around. You won't be tempted to leave your stall during the show this way!
--Buy. If you see something you love, support your local artists! They will likely support you in return by advertising word of mouth and visiting your stall at some point.
--If you enjoy haggling and you will still make a profit, go for it. If your prices are firm, be firm. It's your business model and you're free to choose.

*Above all!*
--Be Positive. This is different than just smiling. Even if you're hardly selling at all and your back hurts and you're hungry, speak as if you've had the most profitable day ever, you feel like a teen again and you're as satisfied as can be. "I'm having a great time!" is your mantra.

If you're having a craft show soon, I hope you have a great time and many sales!