Something From Nothing Log

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:59 pm

I've been hesitant to post this one because I wasn't sure if it was going to work out. Now that things have progressed I think I can safely say it is gradually turning into one of my best ever something-from-nothings.

Each time we return from a long trip I try to learn a few new things. For instance, the last time we were here I became an EMT so I would feel confident if we had a medical emergency in a remote place and I learned a lot about genealogy to acquire my Italian citizenship. This time I was determined to take violin lessons and to study Italian.

I was favoring the violin lessons but when I searched the various violin teachers in town, I found them to be extremely expensive. So then I considered taking the Intro to Italian class at the Italian Cultural Center in town because it is taught by a woman who has a good reputation and teaches the class at the state university as well.

I had resolved myself to register for the Italian class but before doing so I wanted to talk with the little old man who busks with his violin in the park. We've stopped to listen to him play on several occasions. He always plays in perfect key and never rushes through the notes like many buskers. One day about a month ago I was cycling through the park as he was setting up his music stand. I stopped and said, "Excuse me. Do you happen to know anyone who teaches violin?"

He looked at me for a moment, cocked his head crookedly and said, "Scusi?"

Not exactly fresh off the boat, but close enough. An Italian violin teacher. What more could I ask for? That first day he told me to come to his apartment on a particular day, stay as long as I wanted and pay whatever I wanted.

The first lesson went well and midway through the second he stopped me and said, "Hey Ego (he calls me by my last name, which also happens to be a musical term) I have an idea. You want to learn the violin and Italian. I want to learn the computer. I teacha violin, you teacha me the computer." The he slap-rubbed his hands together like Italians are apt to do and said, "No money, no money."

He had somehow activated the Narriator function on his windows computer. Every time he moused over something, the computer would tell him what he was pointing at. It was driving him crazy. I fixed it. He thinks I am Steve Jobs.

The violin, the Italian and logging in to email are all progressing slowly. But we are both moving in the right direction.

enigmaT120
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by enigmaT120 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 11:34 am

That sounds like a great deal and probably a great relationship.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:27 pm

enigmaT120 wrote:That sounds like a great deal and probably a great relationship.
He is a real character. Yesterday he insisted on taking my violin to his friend for corrective surgery. Apparently they installed a second-hand chin rest and a new bridge. He was worried I would be upset about the cost, $20. I bought new strings from ebay and they put those on too. In the afternoon he called me from his spot in the park and was excited for me to hear how beautiful the violin now sounds. He had someone hold the phone while he played. Bellissimo.

I've got another lesson tonight. Correction. We've got another lesson tonight. I sent him an email with a link to a youtube video. He's working on his mouse and clicking technique. I'm working on my bow technique. Same boat, different paddles.

vexed87
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by vexed87 » Fri Jun 10, 2016 6:59 am

Ego, that's a great tale. Made me smile.

saving-10-years
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by saving-10-years » Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:15 am

Nothing to compare to Ego and others but we had another 'delivery' onto our drive - flytipped courtesy of someone who was too lazy to take their boot load of belongings to the charity shops 6 or so miles away. We've sorted and repackaged and will take most of the load to those shops when next in town. Very little was actual rubbish. We have however lifted some items for our use (they fit) and for passing gratis on to people we know will be interested. These include:

100+ construction bricks for toddlers in perfect condition (Interstar brand, new cost is c.£50+)
2 white T W Lewin mens cotton shirts (type pictured,100% cotton with double cuffs) in husband's size and without any obvious wear. Will be the first time husband has owned 'Jermyn Street' shirts. ;)
3 pairs of denims (two of which are Tommy Hilfiger, all of which will work fine as smarter working trousers than his usual)
1 x office chair in faux suede which is more comfortable then the one that DS currently has in good condition (the arms have been put on the wrong way around so previous owner was not hot on DIY)
1 x pair of cream curtains which I will deconstruct and reuse for other projects (4 metres x 60" width) perfect condition.
1 x cute handbag which has a steampunk vibe which I will add to for a festival this summer
1 x Dell monitor (which we have yet to test and may not have survived being shoved in the hedge)
1 x JBL CS60.2 amp which we will try to get working and use out in the barn for mega-music

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Most of the things that end up left on our drive are usable/saleable without too much effort. Ranging from a wooden ledge and brace door (now used upstairs to replace a flimsy one), storage boxes, firewood and even part of a caravan. Curious as to how they end up here (in the middle of the countryside, which takes some effort) but at least as RE peeps we can take the time to sort it and gain some sort of benefit from other people's randomness.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:00 pm

Saving10, nice! So they just drop it off in front of your house?

The penthouse did some spring cleaning. Mrs. Ego got a Lululemon top. These were still in the case in the trash. I took them but I'm not sure what to do with them. I figure they will work for the obligatory bottle of wine when we go to a party. Screw top is a little cheesy but.... oh well.

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George the original one
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by George the original one » Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:19 pm

It's made by Gallo...

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:22 pm

Do you mean that in a good way or a bad way? Don't worry. I won't be offended. I picked it out of the trash, after all.

Only the best for us!

George the original one
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by George the original one » Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:23 pm

LOL, more just as an explanation for the screwtop. I'm sure I've had some at a restaurant and it was decent.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Tue Jun 14, 2016 4:12 pm

Penthouse continues their purge. This morning there were four full sized hefty bags full of high end women's clothing. Four lululemon pieces go to my ebay store as they are too big for the midget yogi. I should make about $100 after fees and shipping.

Mrs. Ego is a member of a clothing swap group so she will take the remainder of the washed clothing to the group to trade. She'll be popular this month.

Also in the trash was a Keurig thingamajig and a Delonghi stainless toaster oven. Both appear to work. If so, craigslist they go.....

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:29 am

The violin lessons are going extremely well. My teacher told me to pick up a first-lesson book so that I would have some beginner songs to practice. I practice in a quiet corner of the park. Yesterday a homeless guy came over, sat at the bench and listened while I played. Actually what I do would more accurately be described as screeching. I felt sorry for him. He began accompanying me by singing such a beautiful rendition of Danny Boy that I had to stop playing. The moment brought tears to my eyes.

The first time I began taking violin lessons was when I entered kindergarten in the Philadelphia public school system in 1972. We were taught the Suzuki method.

Last night Mrs. Ego and I were walking through the swap meet and stopped to talk with Verona, one of our friends who sells piles of trash-picked junk each week. As we were talking I looked down and there on the ground in her stall was a book that brought back a flood of memories. When I told her the story Verona wanted to give it to me for free but I insisted on paying. She refused anything more than $1.

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This week my teacher was having trouble tracking a Fedex package he had returned to a catalog music store. I showed him how to do it on the computer and he thought it was magic. He has trouble communicating on the phone with his thick Italian accent and asked me to call the store to ask why the money had not been refunded to his bank account. I sorted out the problem and he was thrilled. This is turning out to be a wonderful skills exchange.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by black_son_of_gray » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:06 pm

This feels like it fits in this thread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s3bdVxuFBs

bryan
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by bryan » Tue Jun 21, 2016 11:15 pm

great thread @Ego.
llorona wrote:There's a lot of good stuff in the Bay Area, but wow, competition is fierce.
Now that I'm in a larger dwelling, I've started checking CL and you aren't kidding! Anyone that spends money on a mattress, sofa, desk, etc are bonkers: there are plenty of (decent quality!) free ones on CL. Other appliances go for pennies on the dollar. Better free stuff available if you get wind of it quick and are in the area.

I lucked out this past weekend after rummaging around at some garage sales.. was on the way home when I checked on my smartphone the free section and a guy about a mile away had just posted 20m previously about a bunch of large appliances he was leaving on the curb. When I pulled up, he had an impressed look on his face (I think he thought I was going to haul it all away in my van). I only grabbed the washer and air compressor (because karma). Left behind a nice, big tool chest combo, electric dryer, dishwasher, and a bench tool (that I am forgetting what exactly it was, didn't really look at it for more than a moment, may have just been a cutoff saw and sander). All in working order, albeit quite old (80s I think).

Let's see if I can get lucky this weekend with a gas dryer and maybe some air tools.

Here is the antique compressor (haven't really inspected it to see if it's too rusty to be safe..):
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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:39 pm

Nice compressor!

A couple of weeks ago Mrs. Ego found four soggy one-dollar bills balled up in one of the community washing machines. I took them with me to the swap meet and used them to pay for this sleeping bag. I paid $5 for the bag so I had to add one of my own.

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When I got it home I turned the bag inside out and found that the tags were still attached. It was brand new. I listed it on craigslist and sold it yesterday for $55. The guy paid for it with a fifty dollar bill and a five.

This morning I went to our favorite grocery store and found that the rolled oats were on special at 2 lbs/ $1. The cheapest I've seen recently is $.69 per pound. We are nearing the bottom of our third 50 lb bag since returning six months ago (I can't believe how much oatmeal we eat!) so I bought two bags for $25 each and paid with the fifty-dollar-bill.

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$4 remain to fertilize the next cycle of Ego permaculture.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:20 pm

We had a two hour violin lesson last night. It is going amazingly well. Time flies for both of us. Rather than reciprocate with a computer lesson, Maestro asked if I would drive him to a furniture shop to buy a bed. He had been sleeping on an inflatable mattress which developed a slow leak. It sounds much more depressing than it is. His subsidized senior-citizen studio apartment is really very nice and has an incredible view of the bay. So today I took him to a mom and pop store recommended by one of his neighbors. He asked me to negotiate the price for him, which I did, and got free delivery and setup thrown in. He paid with a wad of $1 bills he had earned busking in the park.

On the way home in the car he said, "You see that Ego? I make music into a bed. Just like magic."

I've also been learning to read music and downloaded the free software MuseScore to help with the process.

https://musescore.org/

rube
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by rube » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:00 pm

Ego: every time I read something about the Violin player, a smile appears on my face.
Thank you for the thread and (all) the stories.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:01 pm

Rube, thank you! He is such a funny guy. He is constantly making me laugh.

Today I was coming into the building by way of the back door. One of the tenants was about to flatten the packaging for a Dyson heater/fan. She told me she had ordered a second one when the first stopped working. She said she knew I was handy and asked if I wanted to try to fix it. "Absolutely!" I took the box from her and told her I would take care of it.

https://www.amazon.com/Dyson-AM09-Heate ... B00SMLKEYG

The bottom plate was held in place with a bunch of security screws. A few months ago I had purchased a set of 33 torx bits on ebay for $5 and had the correct one to remove the screws. With the plate off I immediately noticed that the power supply line was disconnected. I plugged it back in. Screwed the plate in place and now have an obscenely expensive remote controlled fan/heater in new condition with a box. Going to craigslist.

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BlueNote
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by BlueNote » Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:28 pm

@Ego

I am loving the violin/italian lesson and basic computer skills exchange. I used to have a neighbour who'd have me over and show me stuff on guitar, I ended up helping him with his computer and am still friends with him 20 years later. It's amazing how many people are out there who really have little to no idea how to use a computer but have advanced level skills in other areas, it's a great trade off.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by black_son_of_gray » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:08 am

Man clears 8k per month by bidding on boxes of returned retail items, then sorting and selling on Ebay. It's kinda like storage unit bidding. I imagine that an sufficient income for ERErs (~1k per month) could be had with about 1/8th the effort once you got a system down... so that would be one day a week.*

If @Ego or @7w5 wanted to scale up ... article here.

Honestly, if you have an entrepreneurial attitude, this could be a great way to get things you need for free. Bid on a box that likely has the thing you need (e.g. phone case), pick out the thing you need and keep it, sell the other premium items on the secondary market... profits should cover initial cost... item you wanted is free**. Also, you could build some social capital by offering the less premium items (e.g. phone chargers, etc. in the article) for free to neighbors, coworkers, et al.

*I'm not sure that this is a long-term income play... maybe for the next few years, but companies will likely build this returned-item problem back into their business model. Or some companies will squeeze profits by competing in this space. It's a rapidly changing dynamic, methinks.
**Actually, you pay for the item in labor, but if you have the time and like the hustle, not a bad deal!

rube
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by rube » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:28 am

Actually it is not really new. My parents did this type of side job already 30 years ago: buying returned goods from catalogue companies and re-sell them again after sorting them out. Mind you, this was before the Internet! I helped them when I got a bit older and learned how to fix all kind of things.

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