Monday, September 25, 2006

Vroom, Vroom

I sold the Acura!

It took me exactly 3 weeks, as opposed to the 6 weeks it took me to sell the Camry 5 years ago.

The secret to selling? Well, according to the buyers, it was a combination of things:

(1) I posted on Craig's List;
(2) I sold to a buyer who had 3 other Acuras;
(3) I had maintenance records.

The buyer told me she'd been looking for two-and-a-half months, looking for a car that she would drive after making sure her daughters each had their own (used) Acura. She fell in love with it, telling me that, despite the dents on the outside, she could tell it was well taken care of because of the condition of the inside.

However, with some hindsight, I should've bitten the bullet and fixed the dents on the side. People were really put off by that, talking about how much money it would cost to fix it. Gee, the car is 8 years old; you'd expect SOME problems. But, like most eBay buyers, they wanted a perfect car costing less than half the worth.

I found an honest buyer who appreciated an honest seller. Tonight I celebrate!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Scammed on Craig's List

When you're selling a used car, the craziest things can happen.

I know this because when I sold my Camry 5 years ago, the nightmares keep coming back. The incessant phone calls. The lowballers. The guys who just liked to talk cars and have you answer all the questions you already answered in the ad. The guys who can't remember which car this is even though they're calling you. The woman who wanted the car for her daughter but didn't bring her daughter to drive the car and so couldn't think of buying it.

These people are crazy.

So, here I am, 5 years later, selling my beautiful 1998 Acura RL. Well, it was beautiful before the dent in the side. I refused to have it fixed, mostly because I was convinced there would be another, and another...

Somebody, I don't remember who, suggested I post the ad on Craig's List, as that's where all the people in their 20's and 30's in the Bay Area are going to look for EVERYthing. So, I posted the ad Saturday night, hoping I'd get a snag for Sunday, and on Sunday the car broke down.

But I got two emails right away. One from Patrick Autos, which sounded like a dealership (which meant to me that I might be asking too little...), and the other from a woman asking me to call her husband when I was ready to show it.

Patrick Autos was very insistent, emails asking me what my bottom price was and where was the car. I answered "6500," and the following is the response I got:

"Thanks for the email. Well, I want to use this medium to inform you that the price was accepted by me and I hope that everything is okay with it. I will be sending you a cashier's check or money order for $13,000 which will cover buying and shipping to my location.

"So as soon as payment gets to you, you are required to deduct the cost of your item, which is $6500, and you will also deduct another $100 for removing the advert off the net and send the balance to my carrier via any international money transfer firm around you for him to be able to offset shipping charges.

"After payment has reached you and balance sent back to him, my agent will come for inspection/pick-up. Confirm name and address check will be made out to and delivered to."

OhmiGod!!! A scam!!!!

My God, I mean, I've received phishing emails just like everybody else on the 'net, but NEVER something as blatant as this! And how do I know this is a scam, personally directed at me and my car? Good 'ol Craig's List warned me. In fact, right after I posted my ad on CL, I got a warning that described EXACTLY what these people would try to do!! Don't accept any sales long distance, they said, and then described the same scenario -- sending a check or money order for a gross amount over the sales price, throwing in an exhorbitant amount to cover administrative costs, you know, to appeal to those of us who are greedy. And they don't want the car -- they just want the money you will send back to them before you discover that the "cashier's check" will never clear.

I'm not greedy. I just want to get rid of this damned but beautiful car.

Craig's List told me not to answer Patrick Autos email, but I did -- with a simple, "Sorry, cash and in person only."

I have someone coming over tomorrow to look at the car. I try to be as honest as I can, disclosing everything. I hope they're the same, unlike Patrick Autos.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

One Car Down...

While driving the Acura back from dinner tonight, it stopped. In the middle of Estudillo. I managed to power it over to the side of the road, as the power steering quit and turning the wheel was like moving it through thick mud.

So there I was, stuck in the right turn lane. And in the bus lane, I wryly noted. I called Triple A and reported the problem; they said they'd send a tow truck within 40 minutes. 10 minutes later, a bus pulled right up to my bumper, seemingly ignoring the hazard lights I had put on. I explained to the bus driver through her open doors what was happening, but that didn't stop her from giving me a piece of her mind, especially after she realized she'd have to back the bus up. Oh, she didn't like that. Believe me, lady, I'd move it if I could.

The tow truck arrived. However, he had put off one other driver to pick me up because I was blocking cars AND a bus, so we went over to the San Leandro library, found the car....and waited, The driver was nowhere around. He appeared 5 minutes later, which was longer than it took to give his battery a charge.

15 minutes later, the tow truck dragged my car to my house and parked it there. Tomorrow morning I'll be calling AAA again, asking them to tow it to the Acura dealership.

The timing on this is weird. The car went down right after I had posted a for sale email on Craig's List. But a week after I brought my new Honda Accord north. Good vs. bad. Awesome.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It's All in the Stew

It was a cold summery day in Oakland. Time for .... stew!

I got the recipe from Ina Garten, who hosts the Barefoot Contessa food show. Everybody else worships Bobby Flay or Emeril on Food Network. But Ina cooks -- and looks -- like the kind of cook you want in your home. She loves food and it shows.

So, anyway, she had a beef stew recipe that called for the chuck to be marinated in a good red wine, like cabernet sauvignon. I couldn't resist.

So, I got 2 pounds of good looking chuck from the butcher at the Piedmont Grocery, and I went to work. The secret to this one, I think, is the marinade but also the fact that you saute the meat, and THEN dump the veggies in.

I made some mistakes along the way, like not cutting the potatoes and onions up enough, but that's the beauty of cooking for myself. I get to try it out, figure out what I did wrong, and hope I don't repeat the same mistakes next time.

The only down thing about this recipe is that it takes about 5 hours to make! So don't put it together while you're hungry!

So, picture this: A glass of red wine, eating my homemade beef stew (and incidentally, dropping it all over my shirt), and then watching the end of Season One's Battlestar Galactica. Stew, wine, and Cylons. It doesn't get much better than that....except if my sweetie had been sitting beside me on the couch.

But when she is, I'll have this killer stew all ready for her!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Jews are at the Ballpark

Last week, I happily went with Dawn to Jewish Heritage night at the San Francisco Giants. We received a nifty Giants hat that said "Giants" in Hebrew.

I sent Rick a photo of AT&T Park from the 3rd deck. I've never been on the 3rd deck. I didn't dare move. He called at once, and asked me who I was there with. "60 Jews!!" I screamed into the phone.

The Jumbo Tron displayed several images of Jews with funny things coming out of their mouths. And during the 7th inning stretch, a rabbi blew a shofar! I'm not sure what he was playing...Take Me Out to the Ballgame was a good bet, though.

Wow!! I will definitely go next year! That is, if I hear about it.

Someone else in the crowd said, the A's would never do this. Well, we'll just have to make sure the A's know such things are possible, and that a few of us would go and fill up their Plaza level.

Jews love baseball, too, you know.

New Wasp Report

I just got home after being a week and a half away. I knew my wasp traps would continue to work once I left. That's the beauty of such things: they first work on the scent of the hamburger but then. once the hamburger is rotten, the new wasp bodies serve as the fresh meat. Insidious.

So, upon arriving home, I leaped from my trusty vehicle to take a look at the numbers of wasps congregating in the trap in the front of the house. I counted 25, but then lost count. I still see a body (dead? alive?) near the nest, and it's still warm out, so the wasps still think it's summer.

Traps, keep doing your thing...