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  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:01 am on January 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Craigslist, , , , , , Michigan, , transportation,   

    eBay and The Michigan Deposit Scam 

    eBay is such a horrible hassle these days. I tried selling a few things recently, and between the horrible UI, all the hassles with payments, answering questions and shipping it turned out to be a huge waste of time.

    I am sitting on a small fortune of items I would like to get rid of, but I don’t want to deal with strangers on Craigslist or going through the eBay rigomarole. An ideal solution would have been an eBay drop-off shop, but it seems that these went the way of the Dodo.

    eBay drop-off store is an idea that many have tried, but it turned out mostly like Seinfeld’s Michigan deposit scam.

    In one episode Newman keeps trying to find a way to make a scheme that would bring New York cans and bottles to Michigan, which has a 10 cent deposit instead of New York’s 5 cent one. Kramer keeps telling him that it would not work due to the transportation overhead, but finally Newman figures out a way to get a postal truck for free.

    It seems that the time overhead is so high on running an eBay store is so high, that most of the bigger ones that tried it went out of business.

    In reality the Michigan deposit scam is against the law, but it actully costs the state 14 million a year in lost revenues. It’s doable.

    eBay is showing Twitter-like incompetence in serving its customers. While Google gives its customers huge amounts of storage, email, and software for free, eBay can’t seem to provide free image galleries and other useful services, selling out its customers to an unsavory bunch of third party providers. Image storage is not a very difficult technical problem, and neither is url shortening, but eBay and Twitter are still in the dark about it.

    Instead of making selling on eBay easy, developing drop off stores, and making its service better eBay seems to be focused on buying and selling unrelated busenesses for billions of dollars (and losing money on it).

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:11 pm on April 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , transportation,   

    I Blame the Politicians 

    Subway is my favorite mode of transportation. Over the years I’ve seen many, many things: from a homeless,   running around batman-like,  dressed an a garbage bag superhero costume to a girl riding home with a pot containing a huge pot plant.

    This morning I looked I was finishing the last Dortmunder  book remaining on my bookshelves. Sitting next to me was an older man, who could be best described as having the “hangdog look” ala master thief John Archibald Dortmunder. All of a sudden he started taking off his shirt. He took out a fresher blue shirt out of his bag and started to put it on. A black lady sitting across from him gave him the dirtiest look she could muster.

    When the old dude went for his belt buckle, the same lady stomped her feet a couple of times and in a profanity-laced monologue informed him of inappropriateness of his actions. It was a good call – it’s very possible that he was planning on changing his underwear.

    The unapologetic old codger replied with a tirade (also profanity-laced), in which he blamed the politicians for making a 50 year old man work (retirement age in the USA is 65). His opponent noted that it’s possible that his habit of using MTA trains as a dressing room hinted at the root of his problems in life, i.e. lack of common sense.

    You can see my older subway-related articles here.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 7:56 am on May 21, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anti-rat devices, , , , , Graybar Building Graybar building, Graybar Electric Company, , Ropes course, transportation   

    NYC Buildings You’ve Never Noticed : The Graybar Building 

    Graybar building is one of the bigger, yet lesser known New York City skyscrapers. Located at 420 Lexington Avenue, it leans against and over Grand Central Terminal. In fact, I walked by it many times thinking that it was a part of Grand Central.

    The understated Art Deco design helps to hide the huge bulk of the building. Some of the sparse embellishments are striking and very unusual.

    The cables that hold the rain canopy in place are in the shape of ship’s mooring ropes, complete with rats and anti-rat devices. I did not notice this at first, but the rosettes from which the ropes emanate are decorated with rat heads. Freaky, huh?

    Bas relieves to the side of the entrances are rather conventional allegorical representations of communication – a dude holding an old-timey (but maybe slightly out of date in In 1927) phone with lightning bolts around his head and stuff and transportation – similar looking dude holding a truck. The other two relieves are of Deco-Assyrian looking Prometheus with fire.

    There’s an antenna at the top of the building. I could not find any information about it.

     
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