Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Was Under The Micrscope Today...

...well at least under the scrutiny of my wife's questioning stare when I came home from a brief excursion to pick up a few items at a couple of local stores. Just before leaving the house this morning, I asked she who must be obeyed adored if she needed anything from the pet shop, or wanted anything from the beverage (as in beer) distributor. She told me to pick up something for the dogs at the pet shop, and to make sure to fill the tank on the Corolla. My initial plan had been to set out to pick up some beer for my brothers-in-law who were coming over for a BBQ this afternoon, and now I had to get some liquid refreshment for the Corolla too. I was also going to stop at the pet shop for a couple of things. My wife's needs did not change things much, so off I went.

I made one detour though on the way to the stores. I stopped at what was supposed to have been a local tag sale (as in estate or complete home contents sale). It was not far out of the way, and I hoped maybe I would find some treasure at a bargain price that I could later sell on eBbay. As I drove down the tidy tree lined street, I spied a driveway with a gaggle of junk piled up on tables and the ground. Oh-oh, not good, figured I, this was a garage sale, not a tag sale! I took a look from the car, and was about to drive off, when the buy it bug bit me. I got out and took a quick look around. At first the only thing that caught my eye was a microscope, a not too old one, probably from the 60s or 70s, monocular eyepiece with three objective lenses. It was marked $25.00. I passed on it even though it seemed to be in excellent condition, and I really mean excellent. I walked around, and sauntered into the garage, where I was stopped by the lady of the house who told me nothing in the garage was for sale, except that maybe later on she would throw a $1.00 tag on her husband and sell him as a used couch potato (no her husband was not there just then). I did an about face and headed to the the small front lawn area, almost bumping into a sort of grumpy looking guy (yes he was the lady's husband as it turned out), and I looked a few other things over. Not much. Then I almost stumbled over a box on the ground. It was a Coleman 2 burner compact gas stove, in a box that had apparently never been opened. Right next to it was a Coleman double burner gas lantern, opened, but in never used condition. The stove was marked $25.00, and the lantern was marked $15.00. I did some quick math and figured that all three items in which I had sort of an interest came out to $65.00 (not bad for a guy who hated math). I also figured that the $52.00 in my pocket would not cover these three items, gas for the car (needed 3/4 of a tank), beer for the in-laws, and food for my mice and hamsters.

Oh heck, I gave it a shot anyhow. I asked the lady in charge with whom would I have to haggle over these items, and she smiled and asked which ones. I told her the three, and she said I had to talk to her husband, then pointed to a guy sitting in the garage. Yes that was the guy I had just about bumped into, the grumpy looking one, the same guy she had just joked about saying she was going to sell him at the end of the day for $1.00 as a used couch potato. Oh well. I gave it my best shot at haggling. I asked him if he would take $45 for the lot. Do you remember I thought the man looked grumpy, well shame on first impressions, he was actually very nice indeed - cordial, courteous, friendly and helpful. He said "How much?", and I said it again. He said he didn't know, because she wasn't sure how much he was asking for the three items. When I told him they all came out to $65, he said $50, and I said deal. That left me $2.00 for gas, pet shop stuff, and beer.

I packed the things into the Corolla, and was off to the ATM at my local bank. I quick pit stop gave me enough cash to complete the rest of my appointed rounds - or should I just say "my appointed rounds", leaving off "the rest of"; since my garage sale stop was not appointed to me by the boss. Then to the distributor for a 1/2 case of Pilsner Urquel, and a 6 pack of Spaten Oktoberfest. After that a quick stop in the pet shop, and then straight back home. No I did not forget the gas; this was just taking longer than I had expected so I hurried home to keep the beers cold. After all a man has to have priorities, and gas can be bought tomorrow. From the look 'she' gave me when I told her I did not fill up the tank, I had best do it tomorrow without fail.

Once home I told the wife about my purchases and she just rolled her eyes. My in-laws were there already, and while the mother-in-law did not comment, the 2 brothers-in-law though I had done well. Later on I sat down at the computer and did some online shopping. I could not find a microscope that matched the one I has bought, a Swift No. 615758, all metal construction with 4X, 10X and 40X objectives, and a 10X WF eyepiece. Similar types today go for about $130 to $200 new. As for the camp stove, it was on a few websites for sale from $81.95 (with zero shipping) to $89.95 (with $15 shipping). A newer similar model (off by one letter in the model number) sells direct from Coleman for about $90. The lantern sells for $60.99 from Coleman.

Yes I think I did well by myself today! I got these items much less than retail, and two of them were brand spanking new (well at least never used before) and the boxes looked pretty new. I think they will get some use on a camping trip or two that I will now have to plan, and certainly when I go hunting later this year. Of course, when not in use they will be stored in my grab and go kit for shit hits the fan emergency situations.

I am hopeful that Brendan will get some use out of the microscope. He works at a veterinary clinic now as a kennel worker; and he has hopes of studying to become a veterinarian. My guess is that anything that will help him out in biological or zoological sciences is a plus. I know that for awhile, way back when, I was quite fascinated with the stuff I collected and viewed under the microscope I owned as a youngster. It was a lot less nice, and less well made than is this one, that was for sure. If he does not get a kick out of it (hopefully a kick in the right direction toward college as he will soon be starting his senior year in HS), well then, I guess I can use it to do some micro-exploring myself. Who knows, maybe can figure out what bug has been keeping me down for the past few weeks since the docs have not done so, at least not yet.

All the best,
Glenn B