Saturday, March 26, 2011

Foreclosed

Thursday when I came home from work there were auction signs at the entrance to my neighborhood. A home had been foreclosed on and was now up for auction. I followed the signs to a home kitty corner from my own. My heart breaks for this family. It is an older couple who had moved out nearly a year ago, their house, a beautiful two story condo end unit, had been for sale for almost a year. The housing market is just not getting any better.

I'm also worried. I work for the state of Minnesota as a computer IT professional. Our legislature has decided to take aim at state employees by placing the burden of balancing the state's budget, which is in deficit by billions, on the shoulders of its employees. I have not had a raise in four years and unless I receive a cost of living raise or a promotion to a new grade level, I will not see a raise in the near future. I know that many workers are dealing with this exact scenario. I'm a union member, something I never thought I would be, and something that would make my father and grandfather roll over in their graves. I love my job; I feel like I'm making a difference in the lives of Minnesotans. I rarely felt that way in private companies. I see my coworkers and the difference we all make. Nearly everyone I work with has, at the the very least, a bachelor's degree, many have master's degrees and doctorates. I'm nervous about myself and my coworkers who also have families and mortgages and health conditions. We are all living on the edge; one push and who knows where we will land. I know that's no different than most families have dealt with, but if we continue to do this to families, we are just going to dig us deeper into a recession. The services that are provided by government workers don't go away, so cutting workers will mean less workers screening newborn babies, less workers making out checks for unemployment and less workers plowing roads, fixing potholes, inspecting bridges, researching food-borne outbreaks, testing samples for tuberculosis, testing water samples from flooded wells, staffing state parks, inspecting nursing homes and restaurants. These are just some of the jobs that public workers do. There are many, many more.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

eBay Addict

I'm addicted to eBay. I know, where have I been. I can't resist bidding on collectibles like Department 56 snow village pieces, Longaberger baskets and Waterford Crystal. The deals on these things are phenomenal. I fell in love with a Waterford crystal pattern called "Ashling" when I was working at a jewelry and gift store during college. I was the weekend gift wrapper so I was able to handle all of the beautiful things like china and crystal. I figure that if I ever were to get married, I would register for the "Ashling" pattern. Well, I've never gotten married so I figured, what the heck, I'm going to get some pieces. I found 3 cordials on eBay and I won them. After that I was off and running. It's the ultimate way to recycle! The first few auctions were so easy and I won them hands down. Then I bid on a basket that I liked. Someone was bidding against me and they seemed to have pretty fast fingers. No sooner would I up my bid then they were putting in a higher bid. I couldn't believe how fast the were able to type. I thought, what the heck? Then I learned about something called AuctionSniper, a website that submits bids automatically for you. Aha! that's how they were beating me. Here is how AuctionSniper works; you connect your eBay account to Sniper. It imports your auctions from eBay and you set your limit. When you are outbid, Sniper submits bids until you either win the auction or the bid is over your limit. Fascinating! You only pay AuctionSniper when you win in a bidding war. And they give you 3 free Snipes.