Friday, May 18, 2012

Estate Sales

I go to an estate sale once every two or three years, just to remind me why I am not an estate sale person.  On its face it seems to be an ideal situation.  A TWU professor lived in this house for 60 years; seems that it would be a treasure trove of interesting and useful items at a good price. 
Most of North Denton apparently agrees and there I find the first problem, parking.  In this case, the elevation is critical.  The further I travel down the street looking for a space, the tougher the climb will be back up the hill to the house.  I circle around and go one block to the south to remain on the same elevation and actually be a little closer.  (Tactical Parking should be my first e-book)  The other thing to prepare for, mentally, is the yahoo that parks illegally near the house and leaves the flashers on.  This could very easily put me in a dark psychological place.  I cannot allow that to happen because I will need a good attitude for the trials ahead.
As I approach the house the excitement grows.  I observe all the smiling faces of people walking to their cars, treasure in hand.  I see power tools, a folding workbench, and that gas can (which was the real reason to show up), all wonderful finds.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the second problem.  When you get to a 9:00am sale at 9:15, all the really good deals are already gone.  However, I don’t know that yet and my confidence is high, I repeat, confidence is high.
Now to get into the house; I understand that the sellers don’t want me to steal late uncle Bob and aunt Jenny’s stuff but the tiny opening by the backyard fence, which is the only hole in their defenses, is clogged with people paying for their purchases.  No one in this line is concerned about me getting in and I am not willing to push my way through.  Eventually, I am able to follow a large woman who apparently dressed for this predicament.  She wore a bright purple spandex sausage casing work out suit that allowed her to slide between people with very little friction.  I followed her and was inside searching through items in no time.
Once inside another issue is navigation.  There is just not much room in most houses for passing traffic.  My disposition and size being what it is, I count it a miracle that I got out to pen these words of warning to others. There is never anything in the bedrooms that are worth traveling to, for it is a dangerous trip indeed.  I was stuck in a bedroom for almost 30 minutes, as waves of people pushed me further from the door.  How can this happen you say…bedrooms are always full of purple spandex women and tiny 80 yr old ladies.  Both of these types of sale goers have the psyches of feeding sharks.  An elderly woman can dart in and out of crevasses and cover the whole house before I get clear of the kitchen.
All of the good garage stuff and yard equipment were gone.  Finally I have my two items, a book of poems (copyright 1923) and a cool little wooden cigar box.  I make my way out to the backyard checkout area to discover that the line goes all the way to the back fence.  As I stand there, sweaty and annoyed, my cigar box is suddenly not that cool and the binding on the book seems a little frayed.  I set down both items and wait for a blocker to exit.  I spot a woman with a large plastic purse that swings widely as she walks.  She is complaining loudly about the price of the dining room table as she leaves.  Everyone in line moves out of our way as we leave.
As I walked back to my car I declared to myself that I only wasted an hour, I would never do it again, and all would be right with the world as soon as I got to Starbucks.  It was.
I’m Beef and these are my tips

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's Just A Gas Can...

I went out last week to buy a gas can. I wanted a 5 gallon plastic can like the one I bought 10 years ago.  What I found has driven me to blog. Not only was the price incredibly crazy, the nozzle looked like it was designed to fuel the space shuttle. I flipped all the levers and pulled at the trigger.  I actually read the directions and it still didn't make any sense.  I finally gave up and left.  When I got home I looked up the manufacturer for the can, that I had, and discovered the company was bankrupt.  Several websites implied that multiple lawsuits forced the company out of business. The newspaper, The Southeast Texas Record, tells of one such lawsuit:

According to the plaintiffs' complaint, the incident occurred on Dec. 18, 2009, as Brooke Crouch was sitting around a camp fire with high school friends. One of the boys attempted to rekindle the camp fire using a Blitz gas can.
Allegedly, the gasoline vapors were ignited outside of the can and flashed back inside it and exploded. Brooke was sitting across from the fire and the gasoline shot onto her hands and legs and under her cheerleading skirt causing severe third degree burns, according to the suit. She was taken to a burn unit, required surgical procedures, skin grafting and extensive physical therapy. 
The gas can manufacturer, Blitz U.S.A., is being sued for strict liability and negligence.The plaintiffs argue that there are safer alternative designs that could eliminate the risk of the gas can exploding, including the use of a flame arestor device or the use of a gas can closure that would prevent flammable gas fumes and liquid from escaping the can. 
Blitz is also accused of failing to produce a reasonably safe can, selling a gas can that was defective, failed to contained adequate warnings and instructions, unfit for its intended and anticipated use, failed to properly test its can, failed to take remedial measures such as post-sale warnings or recall the can, failing to report incidences and lawsuits involving other consumers and for spoiling evidence.

You can't fix stupid....but, the courts try every day.  Warning: this cup of coffee contains a hot liquid that might burn you, duh! If you pour gasoline onto a fire, you might get burned, hello? 

Another thing that supposedly makes new gas cans so complex is environmental laws. Gasoline is considered a volatile organic compound (VOC). VOCs are supposedly greenhouse gases. I found the following online:

The EPA regulations are based on requirements started in Califormia by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2000 and updated in 2007. Since 2000, individual states have been slowly following suit, but the new EPA regulations will bring all states in line and by January 1, 2009 all new PFCs produced and sold in the United States will be compliant.
    The regulations impose:
  • A single, self venting opening for filling and pouring with no separate vents or openings
  • A treated can body for minimal permeation of fuels
  • Automatic closure, meaning a nozzle which automatically springs to the closed position when not pouring
  • Childproof features as designated by the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act
So what does this tell us?  My old gas can is apparently destroying the baby polar bear's home, really?

This makes me long for simpler times.  It is, after all, a can that holds gas.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Today the complexities and roadblocks are created by an over reaching and over bearing government that regulates away our liberties, while spending our grandchildren's futures. 

This is America.  I want companies to be able to make money in this country.  Occasionally, bad things will happen to good people.  They are called accidents; they are not opportunities to get rich and put hard working people out of business.  For now, I will have to buy a "vintage" gas can off ebay where there is a remarkable selection of pre-2009 cans.  I want my gas can and my country back.
I'm Beef...and these are my for tort reform and a complete overhaul of the EPA.  Also, take care of your gas can, it's more valuable than you think. :)